Sun, sun, sun, here it comes. Welcome to the Summer of Belated Epiphanies. Media lapdogs are finally, finally arriving at the conclusion that maybe this isn't the most transparent administration in world history, after all.
On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported on the Obama administration's use of secret email accounts, stonewalling on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and attempted shakedown of reporters seeking public information on just how widespread the disclosure evasion might be.
Take note: It wasn't the AP that originally uncovered Team Obama's penchant for email sock-puppetry. Chris Horner, Competitive Enterprise Institute fellow and author of The Liberal War on Transparency,first exposed former EPA Chief Lisa Jackson's Internet alter ego, "Richard Windsor," last year. The free-market environmental think tank filed suit against the government last fall seeking records on the secret, illegal "secondary" email accounts of high-level EPA officials after the agency ignored multiple FOIA filings.
Seven months after President Obama was re-elected, along comes the AP to bolster Horner's assertion that the practice is not just isolated in one bureaucracy. Corruptocrat Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (whose document-shredding, obstructionist history I chronicled last week) maintained at least one FOIA-subverting address: KGS2@hhs.gov. So did Donald Berwick, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Gary Cohen, a top Obamacare operative.
According to the AP, a whopping 10 agencies have not yet turned over lists of email addresses, including EPA, the Pentagon, the departments of Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Treasury, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Commerce, and Agriculture.
And how's this for the audacity of opacity: Can you believe the Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses?
In a classic Captain Obvious moment, the Associated Press points out that these hidden accounts "drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions." You don't say!
Hostility to transparency, of course, has been a hallmark of this administration from top to bottom. As I reported from the very first days of the Obama regime's vampiric tenure:
Remember: While head of the Clinton administration's EPA, Browner ordered a staffer to purge and delete her computer files to evade a public disclosure lawsuit. Lambasted by the judge for "contumacious" behavior and contempt of court, Browner claimed it was all an innocent mistake—and blamed her young son for downloading games on her work computer that she was trying to erase.
And in case you'd forgotten, Obama set the tone by breaking his transparency pledge with the very first bill he signed into law. In January 2009, the White House announced that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act had been posted online for review. Oopsy: Obama had already signed it—in violation of his "sunlight before signing" pledge to post legislation for public comment on the White House website five days before he sealed any deal.
In 2010, corporate lobbyists met hundreds of times with administration officials at Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, even on a side lawn—with the express purpose of circumventing the public's right to know. The coffee loophole klatches were arranged by Team Obama members using, you guessed it, personal email accounts to communicate with the influence industry.
When Obama vowed that "transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency," he didn't mean "touchstones." He meant sinkholes.
Now, when Mr. Sunshine touts his reveal-as-we-say-not-as-we-conceal record, I'll welcome company from the Johnnies-come-lately of the White House press who see the truth and laugh out loud, rolling on the floor.