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Groups to Super Committee: "Transparency" is Not Just for Ghosts

October 31, 2011

SEATTLE - The Sunlight Foundation has organized Halloween visits by members of more than 30 grassroots groups to local congressional offices, to call attention to the "scary" secrecy of the Super Committee. Political watchdog groups say the budget-cutting committee's real work is being done out of the public eye, which runs counter to congressional ethics rules that they fought for just two years ago.

Robert Weissman, president of the organization Public Citizen, calls the Super Committee's few public meetings "show hearings."

"It's very hard to expect that you'll get good recommendations from a bad process, just generally. But also substantively: It's a near certainty that what comes out will be worse for having been done behind closed doors - if in fact an agreement is reached."

When the Super Committee members are not in their closed-door meetings, most are busy raising funds for reelection campaigns, the groups charge – and they've been tracking campaign donations for all 12 members of the Super Committee since they were appointed.

Mary Boyle, vice president of communications for Common Cause, says Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) actually has raised less money than in the previous quarter - while others have tripled their fundraising take.

"It was clear from the get-go that this Super Committee would be a magnet for special interests to give money to influence their decisions. For Senator Murray in the third quarter, that has not happened to the extent that some other members have continued to raise money."

The Sunlight Foundation visits today include Sen. Murray's offices in Seattle and Vancouver. The groups' Halloween message is that "transparency" is not just for ghosts. They're asking for open meetings and members' voluntary disclosure of campaign contributions and lobbying contacts.

The visits to Murray's offices, 915 2nd Ave., Seattle, and the Marshall House, 1323 Officer's Row, Vancouver, are scheduled at 9:00 a.m. The Super Committee's next public meeting is scheduled for Nov. 1.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA