Seven Ways to Sunshine

The government works for the people, not the other way around.

That’s why I have a town hall in every Oregon county, every year.

For Sunshine Week 2016, it is time to focus on opening up government to the public. Time to knock down barriers and bring in transparency.

Here are seven ways I’ve been fighting for more sunshine in government:

  1. Opposing questionable FOIA policies: When the FBI announced it would require photo ID for people filing electronic Freedom of Information Act requests, I had a lot of questions. Guess what? We won. The FBI listened and dropped the ID requirement this month.
  2. Defending whistleblowers: Last year the Navy decided to ignore evidence that a senior Admiral retaliated against whistleblowers. I told the Navy to think again. Everyone in government needs to do more to protect those who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse.
  3. Making public when colleges ask for exemptions from civil rights protections: I asked the Education Department to reveal which colleges seek and receive waivers to discriminate especially against gay and transgender students. In January, the department made that list public.
  4. Fighting for new information about how the government tracks your location: I’ve been working with Rep. Chaffetz to pry loose Justice Department memos that explain its policy for tracking digital location information on cell phones, GPS devices and other electronics.
  5. Pressing for transparency on IRS use of stingrays: After The Guardian revealed the Internal Revenue Service was using stingrays to track Americans’ cell phones, I asked the IRS how often they were used, why, and under what authority. In response, the IRS made that information public for the first time, and rewrote its policy to require a warrant for future use of stingrays.
  6. Putting a light on dark money in politics: I wrote the stand-by-your-ad provision requiring individuals and groups to put their names on political advertising. Since then, shady special interests have found new ways to hide their backers. So now I’m pushing for a new law to make more information public about who is really spending money on political campaigns.  And I want companies that get federal contracts to be up-front about who they’re giving money to, so the public can be sure contracts are based on merit, not campaign spending.
  7. Finally, I wanted to highlight our biggest win on sunshine and transparency in a long, long time. The NSA used secret interpretations of the Patriot Act to institute mass surveillance of millions of law-abiding Americans. Together we stood up to mass surveillance and secret laws and we ended it. That’s a big win for sunshine.

Here’s to shining more light on government!