Policy and News Updates for March 11, 2008

In This Issue: [click on the link to go to the corresponding section]

I. OpenTheGovernment.org’s Sunshine Week Event: "Government Secrecy: Censoring Your Right to Know" Update
II. Presidential Library Funding Developments
News from Coalition Partners & Others


I. OpenTheGovernment.org’s Sunshine Week Event: "Government Secrecy: Censoring Your Right to Know" Update

With Sunshine Week starting within the week, OpenTheGovernment.org is proud to announce that we are looking forward to a great event of our own on March 19. We’re honored to have two groups of panelists with distinct and valuable experiences for our webcast (and satellite downlink).

The first panel will examine institutional politics and government secrecy; it features:

    • Ann Beeson, Director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Institute (formerly of the ACLU);
    • Mickey Edwards, Director of the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership (previously Congressman (R) from Oklahoma, 1977-1992); and
    • John Podesta, president/CEO of the Center for American Progress, Chief of Staff to President William J. Clinton from late 1998 – January 2001.

Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, will moderate.

The second panel will focus on the nexus of technology, access to government information, and citizen action. Panelists are:

Greg Elin of Sunlight Labs will moderate.

We are also proud to announce that hundreds of people around the country will be joining us, whether at the event itself in Washington, D.C. or at a host-site-sponsored event (see our directory; if there won’t be an event near you, watch the webcast online at: http://www.visualwebcaster.com/thepressclub-GovtSecrecy2008-031908).

During the event, to submit questions for the panelists, email questions@openthegovernment.org, or call (202) 662-7496 or (202) 662-7497. Priority will be given to questions from viewers at registered sites. Check our Sunshine Week Webcast page for technical details and resource materials.

II. Presidential Library Funding Developments

With less than a year remaining in his presidency, George W. Bush is already looking to the future, when the records of his administration will be transferred to his presidential library at Southern Methodist University. At a recent White House news conference, Bush fielded several questions about the library and its funding, and he agreed that it was important for the American people to know who donors were, and added that there would be donor and donation limits. The president denied reports he was trying to collect as much as $200 million, but pointedly refused to commit to disclosing information about contributions when received. Bush said that he had not seen a final budget, and that he did expect to receive some donations from non-domestic sources (as President Clinton’s library did). Because of ongoing concerns about the funding of presidential libraries, legislation (H.R. 1254, the Presidential Library Donation Reform Act) has passed in the House to require public reporting on contributors. It is being held up in the Senate by Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK).

Other questions related to the Bush library involve concerns that the records will not be complete, as recent stories about the White House email system suggest that hundreds of days’ of email cannot be located, despite the requirements of the Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act (GOP Halts Efforts to Retrieve White House E-mails, Washington Post, February 27). Moreover, as Senator Joe Lieberman has noted in the Dallas Morning News, "Joe Lieberman: Bush library deserves all documents" (March 8 op-ed), President Bush’s Executive Order 13233 has severely weakened public access to the presidential records that are preserved.

News from Coalition Partners & Others

Other Sunshine Week events in Washington, D.C.

(for a full calendar of state events, see the Sunshine Week Event page state section):


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