The Obama administration conducted a workshop on government openness for federal employees behind closed doors Monday, a private training session for freedom-of-information officials to learn about a new U.S. office that settle disputes between the bureaucracy and the public.On a related issue: Last October, the Bush Administration finalized a rule (29 C.F.R. § 403.2) requiring unions to disclose contributions to "trusts" that benefit members and are union-controlled. This was meant to cover "'slush' funds and front groups [funded by] forced union dues . . . transferred to groups like ACORN and the AFL-CIO’s American Rights At Work." The Obama Labor Department sought to repeal that rule but hasn't completed the process. So, on December 3rd, the DoL proposed staying the initial disclosure deadline, providing a scant 11 day comment period.
The decision to preclude the public and the media from attending Monday's workshop left open government advocates scratching their heads, given President Barack Obama's campaign promise to make his administration the most transparent ever. A reporter for The Associated Press was turned away from the door Monday.
"If they're getting marching orders, why shouldn't the public be there?" said Jeff Stachewicz, founder of Washington-based FOIA Group Inc., which files hundreds of requests every month across the government on behalf of companies, law firms and news organizations. . .
The workshop was organized by the Justice Department's Office of Information Policy for agency public liaisons, who serve as ombudsmen and who "play a vital role in the administration of the FOIA at each agency," the government said. . .
The official in charge at the conference, Melanie Ann Pustay, offered these reasons to explain why it was closed: She wanted government employees to be able to speak candidly, and the conference would be in an auditorium at the Commerce Department, where she said a government ID was required to be admitted.
The AP and other news organizations routinely enter government buildings to cover the government.
As Big Government's Don Loos says:
It is not surprising that Obama’s Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis would rescind these financial disclosure rules since she is the former treasurer of the Big Labor funded American Rights at Work (ARAW) lobbying and political group. These disclosures would reveal much about the group’s expenditures on behalf Big Labor’s agenda; the very types of expenditures Solis would have signed-off on as ARAW Treasurer.Transparency for thee but not me?
Union officials have fought these financial disclosures since 2003. One of the AFL-CIO lawyers involved in opposing these disclosure requirements was Deborah Greenfield. Now, Greenfield is the Obama Administration’s Acting Deputy Solicitor of Labor and Director of the Office of the Secretariat. As Deputy Solicitor, Greenfield oversees these regulations.
This looks like the same old Washington insider influence that Presidential Candidate Obama, President-Elect Obama, and President Obama promised that he would not allow.