Who’s Transparent Now?

Who’s Transparent Now?

Who’s Transparent Now?

A campaign blog.
March 19 2008 5:03 PM

Who’s Transparent Now?

With much fanfare, the National Archives today  released 11,000 pages of Hillary Clinton’s schedules from her eight years as first lady. Mark Halperin instantly reported that there was no "smoking gun" among the papers. (What would constitute a smoking gun? Meetings with lobbyists? " 3:45 p.m.: Cover up land deal "?) The most curious revelation has been that Hillary was in the White House on the day of the famed "blue dress" incident. Also—surprise surprise—Clinton got face time with people who are now superdelegates. But beyond that, slim pickings so far.

The Clinton campaign was quick to turn this into a "challenge" for Obama. They urged him "to release relevant documents and information from his tenure in the State Senate relating to his schedule, to memos, to letters that he may have written to state agencies perhaps on behalf of Mr. Rezko or others."

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We’ve seen this movie before: Candidate stonewalls against some reform, finally gives in, then denounces opponent for failing to adopt same reform. (Remember how John Edwards spun taking public funds into a virtue?) So, of course Clinton is now casting herself as the transparency candidate. But how valid is that? Here’s a quick comparison of their records on disclosure:

Tax Returns: Clinton released her tax returns from the White House years when she was running for her Senate seat and challenged her opponent to do the same. But her tax returns since 2000 are still private, and neither she nor her surrogates have provided satisfying answers as to why. (When Bill Clinton was running for president in 1992, he released records from as far back as 1980, but refused to release those from 1978 to '79.) Obama has released his tax returns every year since 2004.

Earmarks: Last week Obama released a list of earmarks he had requested for Illinois since becoming a senator. Clinton has not followed suit.

Fundraisers: In January, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet successfully pressured the Obama campaign to include more fundraisers on his public schedule. But that only includes those held at public venues like hotels, not private homes. Clinton has not opened fundraisers to reporters.

Donors and bundlers: Obama’s campaign lists the names of bundlers—people committed to raising more than $50,000—on its Web site but doesn’t include cities or states to go with the names. In February, Clinton’s campaign let reporters listen in on a highly staged conference call with major donors.

Personal papers: Now that Clinton has released her personal schedule from the White House years, she’s urging Obama to release his own from his years in the State Senate. When asked about the whereabouts of his pre-2004 records, Obama said he "didn’t have the resources to ensure that all this stuff was archived in some way…. [I]t could have been thrown out."