Let the Sunshine In … No! No! Keep It Out!
- March 19, 2015
It’s Sunshine Week, which has nothing to do with the first day of Spring and everything to do with government openness and transparency. Coined by news organizations that use the week to promote the freedom of information, the Associated Press is out with an article that names the federal government as the worst offender against transparency.
This, of course, is not news to any of our members, none of whom have ever gotten an answer as to why the Third Amendment Sweep to divert all of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s profits into a general U.S. Treasury fund, was enacted. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is among 17 watchdog organizations that sent a letter to Capitol Hill calling for the release of documents, ties the Administration’s lack of transparency to the more than 20 shareholder lawsuits that have been filed:
“But probably the most egregious example of this administration’s practicing of secrecy concerns its management of the government-sponsored housing enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In August 2012, then–Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner issued the ‘Third Amendment to the GSE conservatorship. The Third Amendment would require all of the GSEs’ profits to be siphoned off to the U.S. Treasury Department in perpetuity—even after the GSEs paid back what they owed to taxpayers.
“… But the really amazing thing is that we know very little about what prompted Obama and Geithner to pursue this highly controversial policy. The Obama administration has claimed a form of ‘executive privilege’ and sealed documents regarding how the decision was made.”
It’s bad enough for government agencies to deny citizens and journalists access to information and records that belong to We, the People. But to hide behind the thin veneer of “executive privilege” to avoid revealing why officials thought it would be OK to stash away billions of dollars of taxpayer and shareholder dollars in a slush-fund is really shameful and undermines confidence in the rule of law.