Real Congressional Transparency

This is great. I hope we see a lot more of it.

Congress and the Benefits of Sunshine: Representative-elect Kirsten Gillibrand has decided to post details of her work calendar on the Internet at the end of each day so constituents can tell what she is actually doing for their money.

In fact, it is a quiet touch of revolution. The level of transparency pledged by Ms. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York — down to naming lobbyists and fund-raisers among those she might meet with — is simply unheard of in Congress. The secrecy that cloaks the dealings of lawmakers and deep-pocket special interests underpinned the corruption issue that Ms. Gillibrand invoked as voters turned Republicans from majority rule last month.

For all the worthy proposals for ethics reform being hashed out by the incoming Congress, a heavy dose of Internet transparency should not be overlooked in the effort to repair lawmakers’ tattered credibility. The technology is already there, along with the public’s appetite for more disclosure about the byways of power in Congress.

The Web is increasingly wielded by both campaign donors and bloggers clicking and tapping as wannabe muckrakers. Politicians would be wise to catch up. Local citizens were enlisted to track pork-barrel abuses in the last campaign by a new watchdog organization, the Sunlight Foundation, which enlisted Ms. Gillibrand’s disclosure pledge. It aims to have voters use the Internet as an engine of political information.

Thin edge of the populist wedge!

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