Openness and Transparency
Unfortunately, far too often the business of government is done behind closed doors, blocked from the public eye and the scrutiny of the media. From the current financial crisis to our inability to reform health care over the last decade, decisions made behind closed doors do not serve the public well.
Kirsten believes voters deserve open and honest leadership and is working to usher in new reforms by working closely with President Obama and his administration to make sure the public is an equal partner in governing.
As usual, Kirsten leads by example.
From her first days in Congress, Kirsten has been a trailblazer for more openness and transparency in government. The Sunlight Foundation says that Kirsten "was at the vanguard of transparency innovation in Congress," and that her office was "one of the more transparent in the Congress."
Kirsten was proud to be the first member of Congress to list all daily official meetings on her Congressional schedule and among the first to post federal earmark requests she supports and personal financial disclosure reports. As a new senator, she is committed to keeping this practice by relaunching the Sunlight Report on her Senate Web site.
Generally, the Federal Elections Commission does a good job of reporting online who donates to elected officials' campaigns, but that is only half of the story. By publishing her official meetings, voters get to see who is lobbying Kirsten and on what issues. If a voter sees she has met with a group whose views they oppose, they can contact her office to make sure their viewpoints are heard too.
Similarly, listing all federal earmark requests gives taxpayers the opportunity to know Kirsten's priorities. If voters look at the list of projects Kirsten has submitted and do not see an investment that they think is valuable for their community, they can contact Kirsten's office and make their case directly. This is to ensure that citizens and businesses do not need a lobbyist of their own to participate in the process.
Many voters have lost faith in their elected officials and feel they are bought and paid for by special interests and private motivations. That is why Kirsten voluntarily posts her financial disclosure report online to eliminate any doubt about her priorities.
Kirsten cannot change Washington overnight, but every day she chooses to conduct her office in a manner that adds more openness and transparency to government and empowers citizens. While she was among the first in Congress to list her meetings and earmarks online, she is no longer the only one. Over time, more and more public officials will take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Internet to engage citizens and make government better.
In the meantime, Kirsten will continue aggressive efforts to shine some light on Congress, both within her own office and throughout Washington. She will continue to work to strengthen shield laws for journalists and whistleblowers. She will continue to work with the Obama administration to push for more transparency in federal agencies through innovative Web sites like www.recovery.gov, which allows citizens to track American Recovery and Reinvestment spending.