April 17, 2017 – Issue One Chief of Policy Meredith McGehee’s Response to reports of the White House refusing to publicly release its visitor logs:
What an unfortunate and ill-judged decision by the White House. From dismissing decades of tradition by declining to release his tax returns to refusing to place his assets in a blind trust, President Trump seems to be going out of his way to fan distrust and doubt about the way his White House works.
At a time when trust in government hovers near the single digits, the White House visitor logs shine needed sunlight on one of our nation’s most powerful public institution.
The president’s challenge is to convince and reassure the country — not just those within his administration, his donors or his stalwart supporters — that foremost in his mind are the best interests of the American people. Reasonable transparency about government decision-making is the bedrock of public trust in our democracy.
When Justice Brandeis said sunlight is the best disinfectant, he was not seeking partisan advantage nor ideological purity — he was commenting on the importance of transparency to maintaining faith in the democratic process. As previous experience demonstrated, publicly releasing the visitor logs (with the appropriate exceptions for special circumstances, such as national security) does not prevent presidents or their staff from properly and efficiently conducting the public’s business.
Like our friends at Judicial Watch, who care about transparency and ethics, we are disappointed in this decision.
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