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Toward Greater Congressional Transparency:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should be commended for her recent effort to increase transparency and accountability within Congress. The Washington Post reports:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said yesterday that the House will soon start posting online quarterly records of how members use their personal office funds, giving watchdog groups a chance to examine staff salaries and other spending by members of Congress.

Congress has long published such information in a volume called the Statement of Disbursements, but it will now be released online, which Pelosi said would increase transparency. The change comes as members of the British Parliament are under fire for spending huge sums of taxpayer money through their public accounts on such expenses as cleaning a moat and having light bulbs installed in their homes.

"Consistent with my goal to increase transparency and ensure greater accountability to the public, please take all steps necessary to ensure that the quarterly Statement of Disbursements be made available online free of charge to the public and on a suitable House website," Pelosi wrote yesterday in a letter to the chief administrative officer of the House.

Now if only Congress were as transparent with regard to health care reform.

BGates:
Just their office funds? I thought every aspect of her life was supposed to be subject to an inventory.
6.4.2009 1:11pm
Constantin:
Is this some kind of joke? Transparency for a few million bucks, obstructing investigations (that even the New York Times says is necessary) of billions in bribes.

Yeah, that evens out.
6.4.2009 1:29pm
Crunchy Frog:
Just as long as the transparency doesn't extend to her clothing.

shudder
6.4.2009 1:53pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :
I wondered if this story would, somehow, prompt criticism of Pelosi. Mystery solved.
6.4.2009 1:59pm
rosetta's stones:
Don't laugh. Rostenkowski went to the hoosegow when some of these minor expenditure shenanigans were exposed. Sure, he was a Chicago machine pol, and always a step from a jail cell by definition, but the fact that it's taken Pelosi 2+ years to implement this indicates that many other rostenkowskian arrangements had to be cleaned up in the interim, and thus this is likely a solid good-government move. Opposition campaigns will be quick to jump on any discrepancies.
6.4.2009 2:00pm
Fugle:
I, for one, believe that "moat cleaning" is an acceptable use of office funds.
6.4.2009 2:30pm
Paul B:
Rosetta,

Rostenkowski went to jail because he converted office funds to personal use. After spending lots of resources in the hopes of finding a UK Parliament like story, the Journal reporters conceded that they did not uncover a single example of unauthorized use of public funds. This is an example of journalists trying to manufacture a story ("the records are on paper, not online!")after they failed to find one.
6.4.2009 2:36pm
rosetta's stones:
Paul,

Why should anybody have to spend "lots of resources" to check this out? Don't you think those records should be available on line, on principle?
6.4.2009 2:48pm
Paul B:
Rosetta,

I agree that these records should be online. What I question is the Journal's decision to make this a Page One story for three days. Clearly, they put lots of resources into this story and had nothing to show for it.
6.4.2009 2:50pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I agree with Constantin, this is an absolute joke. After ramming through hundreds of billions in new spending, we're supposed to be applauding them for posting their personal office funds online?
6.4.2009 3:00pm
[insert here] delenda est:
I think we should applaud good policy wherever we find it, and this is good policy.

Next step: publish all earmarks requested by each member on-line when and as written in (ie, if in Committee as is usually the case, before the bill leaves the Committee.
6.4.2009 3:33pm
PeteP (mail):
Nancy Pelosi should be impeached for making the US House her own personal 'domain' to an extent previously unheard of and uncontemplated.

Her Hitleresque domination of that body is an abomination to the US of A.
6.4.2009 7:57pm
John kmm (mail):
The Uk spending was all legal, it was done according to the rules. Every pound for a duck was by the manual
6.4.2009 9:01pm
Careless:

I agree with Constantin, this is an absolute joke. After ramming through hundreds of billions in new spending, we're supposed to be applauding them for posting their personal office funds online?

I'd say this is a total difference in kind than something like Obama trying to cut a fraction of a percent from the budget. This is potentially exposing themselves to scandal. Yes, assuming there is some significant increase in openness here, it's deserving of praise.
6.5.2009 11:28am

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