Tom Fitton Opening Statement 522011
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Date Created:May 2, 2011
Date Uploaded to the Library:February 20, 2014
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Opening Statement Tom Fitton, President Judicial Watch Hearing the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Oversight and Investigations entitled "White House Transparency, Visitor Logs and Lobbyists" May 3,2011 10:30 a.m., 2322 Rayburn House Office Building Good morning, I'm Tom Fitton, president Judicial Watch. Judicial Watch conservative, non-partisan educational foundation dedicated promoting transparency, accountability and integrity govemment, politics and the law. are the nation's largest and most effective government watchdog group. Judicial Watch is, without doubt, the most active Freedom oflnformation Act (FOIA) requestor and litigator operating today. Thank you, Chaitman Stems and Congresswoman DeGette for allowing testify this important topic. Judicial Watch used the open records laws root out corruption the Clinton administration and take the Bush administration's penchant for improper secrecy. Founded 1994, Judicial Watch has nearly years' experience using FOIA advance the public interest. The American people were promised new era transparency with the Obama administration. Unfortunately, this promise has not been kept. clear: the Obama administration less transparent than the Bush administration. have filed over 325 FOTA requests with the Obama administration. And have filed well over FOIA lawsuits foderal court against this administration. would like shed light the truth behind the Obama White House's repeated trumpeting the release Secret Service White House visitor logs. fact, the Obama administration refusing release tens thousands visitor logs and insists, repeating Bush administration last-ditch legal position that the visitor logs are not subject the Freedom Inf01mation Act. while the Obama administration attempts take the "high ground" the debate releasing select number visitor logs, shields tens thousands other records that continue withheld defiance FOIA law. Why release some and not all? the fall 2009, Judicial Watch staff was invited meet with senior White House official Nonn Eisen, then-Special Counsel the President for Ethics and Government, discuss Judicial Watch's pursuit the White House visitor logs. The White House encouraged publicly praise the Obama administration's commitment transparency. saying would good Opening Statement Tom Fitton President Judicial Watch May 2011 for them and good for us. However, the Obama team refused abandon their legally indefensible contention that Secret Service White House visitor logs are not subject disclosure under FOIA law. filed lawsuit ask the court enforce the law. The Obama administration continues advance its ridiculous and bogus claim that the visitor logs "are not agency records subject the FOIA," but the Obama administration doesn't date, every court that has reached this issue has concluded that the White House Secret Service visitor logs are agency records and must processed response properly submitted FOIA request. Now know from published reports that White House officials have been meeting with lobbyists and interests nearby Caribou Coffee shop across the street anonymous conference center specifically prevent disclosure visitors who might otherwise have their names disclosed result visiting the White House complex itself. And other investigators the Center for Public Integrity have further confitmcd what Judicial Watch has long known: that the visitor logs "voluntarily" disclosed the White House are little more than data dump full holes that shield rather than shed light visitors and their business the White House major issue after major issue, FOIA ignored this administration. For instance, sure this committee aware about the astonishing 1,000 Obamacare waivers issued the Department Health and Human Services. Judicial Watch first began asking for documents about this issue last October. sued January (Judicial Watch, lnc. Department Health Human Services, USDC Case No. 10-2328; Months after our initial request, not have one document about these highly controversial waivers. Given the obvious public interest this matter, this stonewall seems nothing more than arrogant lawlessness. The difference between this administration's rhetoric and its practice vast. This White House, were promised, would not hire lobbyists. But now know that actually meant that Opening Statement Tom Fitton President Judicial Watch May 2011 the Obama administration wouldn't hire lobbyists unless wanted to. The Washington Examiner's Timothy Carney tracked least lobbyists hired the Obama White House And the American people were also promised the highest standards ethics. The socalled "revolving-door ban" part ethics pledge that appointees supposedly sign upon entering the administration. Administration appointees promise not work, for two years, matters related fo1mer employers lobbying clients. many ways, the lobbyist ban and ethics pledge are silly. But rather than admit that the anti-lobbyist rhetoric might lead the absurd result fine Americans with high levels expertise unable work for government, the Obama administration started issuing "ethics waivers" the president's anti-lobbying and ethics administration that promised transparency and the rule law would the touchstones this presidency, now regularly "waives ethics" for lop appointees. Only Washington could you "waive ethics" with straight face. our count, there have been least ethics waivers the Obama Even worse, have report the New York Times that the Obama White House actually advised some de-register lobbyists get around the anti-lobbyist rules issued President Obama the very first day his presidency This ethics gamesmanship undermines the rule law and makes one think that this administration has something hide. Let end noting that commitment transparency should cut across partisan and ideological lines. The Founding Fathers understood the importance knowing what our government to. John Adams wrote: Liberty cannot preserved without general knowledge among the people, who have right, from the frame their nature, knowledge, their great Creator, who does nothing vain, has given them understandings, and desire know; but besides this, they have right, indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right that most dreaded and envied kind knowledge; mean, the characters and conduct their rulers. Thank you.