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
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.