Friday, October 24, 2008
Obama: Most Secretive Democratic Presidential Candidate Ever
David A. Patten
Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign says his campaign will bring a new level of honesty and transparency to the White House. Obama proudly touts that he and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla, passed a law requiring more transparency via a public database of all federal spending. But when it comes to offering the public documents about his own public and private activities, Obama’s record for openness gets an "F" grade.
During the heated Democratic primary, Obama complained of the Bush White House being “one of the most secretive administrations in our history” and chided Sen. Hillary Clinton for not releasing her White House schedules.
Ironically, Obama, just days away from possibly being elected president, continues to stonewall a growing chorus of information requests for documents about his legislative, personal health, education, financing, and background -- leaving many voters to cast ballots based on incomplete information.
And serious questions about his past continue to swirl as Election Day looms, fueled in part by his own campaign’s refusal to make relevant documents available.
And the press, usually banging at the door for candidates to make “full disclosure” is strangely quiet about Obama’s stonewalling.
A Newsmax survey of key Obama aspects of Obama’s public and private life continued to be shielded from the public.
Among the examples:
* Obama has released just one brief document detailing his personal health. McCain, on the other hands, released what he said was his complete medical file totaling more than 1500 pages. After criticism on the matter, last week the Obama campaign also released some routine lab-test results and electrocardiograms for Obama. All test results appeared normal, but many details about his health remain a mystery.
* Obama has refused to offer his official papers as a state legislator in Illinois, and has been unable to produce correspondence, such as letters from lobbyists and other correspondence from his days in the Illinois state senate. There are also no appointment calendars available of his official activities. “It could have been thrown out,” Obama said while on the campaign trail during the Democratic primary. “I haven’t been in the state Senate now for quite some time.”
* Obama has not released his client list as an attorney or his billing records. Obama has maintained that he only performed a few hours of legal work for a nonprofit organization with ties to Tony Rezko, the Chicago businessman convicted of fraud in June. But he has not released billing records that would prove this assertion.
* Obama won’t release his college records from Occidental College where he studied for two years before transferring to Columbia.
* Obama’s campaign refuses to give Columbia University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in political science, permission to release his transcripts. Such transcripts would list the courses Obama took, and his grades. President George W. Bush, and presidential contenders Al Gore and John Kerry, all released their college transcripts. (McCain has refused to release his Naval Academy transcript.)
* Obama’s college dissertation has simply disappeared from Columbia Universities archives. In July, in response to a flurry of requests to review Obama’s senior thesis at the Ivy League school, reportedly titled “Soviet Nuclear Disarmament,” Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told NBC News “We do not have a copy of the course paper you requested and neither does Columbia University.”
* The senator has not agreed to the release of his application to the Illinois state bar, which would clear up intermittent allegations that his application to the bar may have been inaccurate.
* Jim Geraghty of the National Review has written extensively about Obama’s unwillingness to release records related to clients he represented while he was an attorney with the Chicago law firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill, and Gallard. Obama was required to list his clients during his years in the Illinois senate. “Obama listed every client of the firm,” Geraghty reported, making it impossible to discern which clients he represented.
* Obama has never released records from his time at Harvard Law School.
* Obama also has not disclosed the names of small donors giving $200 or less to his campaign. An exception to the finance-reporting laws exempts the campaign from reporting those who donate less than $200, but that law never envisioned the more than $300 million that has been raised by Obama in small amounts. The Republican National Committee has released its small donors, as well as McCain’s, on a public database.
On several occasions, the Obama campaign has offered to provide additional information to reporters if they have specific questions or issues. And in some cases, it has done so.
When Internet rumors began to fly that perhaps Obama was born outside the United States, for example, the campaign released images of a birth certificate that verified his birthplace as Honolulu, Hawaii. When that led to suggestions the birth certificate had been altered, the campaign again responded, allowing reporters to examine the actual birth certificate, complete with raised seal. (In late July, according to FactCheck.org, a researcher uncovered an announcement of Obama’s birth in the August 13, 1961 edition of the Honolulu Advertiser).
Such instances of cooperation pale, however, compared to the many unanswered questions surrounding Obama, such as the financing of his education, and requests for the complete release of all donors to his campaign.
Of course, candidates are often reticent to disclose any information that opposition researchers could use against them.
But Politico.com notes that the Obama’s failure to share documents is “part of his campaign’s broader pattern of rarely volunteering information or documents about the candidate, even when relatively innocuous.”
The hue and cry from the media for disclosure usually forces candidates to release sought after documents. But the press has largely acquiesced to Obama’s stonewalling.
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