October 2, 2008
Transparency in the Bailout
By James Wilson

Downsize DC is proud to have joined dozens of other organizations in submitting the follwing letter to Senators Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs:

September 23, 2008

Any Federal Financial Industry Rescue Package Must Be Transparent

The Honorable Christopher J. Dodd             The Honorable Richard Shelby

Chairman                                                            Ranking Member

Senate Committee on Banking,                     Senate Committee on Banking,

Housing and Urban Affairs                              Housing and Urban Affairs

534 Dirksen Senate Office Building              534 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510                                   Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Dodd and Ranking Member Shelby:

We the undersigned, as advocates for open and transparent government, strongly oppose section 2(b)(2) and section 8 of the Legislative Proposal for Treasury Authority to Purchase Mortgage-Related Assets. While we hold many different views on the causes of and remedies for the current turmoil in financial markets, we are united in the belief that the legislation confers unacceptably broad powers upon the Treasury to conduct activities without transparency and accountability to the public. As written, the proposal would make any decisions by the Secretary non-reviewable by courts or administrative agencies – a certain prescription for the very kind of opacity that has contributed to the financial policy woes we face today. Equally troubling, public contracts associated with the proposal could be created outside of existing laws normally governing such actions.

Few proposals in the 110th Congress can match this one for its impact on the American people. For the sake of democratic discourse, citizens deserve vigorous, timely, and accessible disclosure of all details surrounding any government decisions in response to financial market problems. Congress should respect this vital civil right by rejecting section 2(b)(2) and section 8 of the proposal now before you.

At a minimum, any credible solution must address one of the current crisis’ fundamental causes – corruption and other abuses of power sustained by secrecy. Otherwise, the taxpayers could end up giving $700 billion more to repeat the same disasters. Congress must prove it has learned this lesson. Any genuine solution must be grounded in transparency, with all relevant records publicly available and best practice whistleblower protection for all employees connected with the new law. Secrecy worsened this crisis, and taxpayers will not accept a law for secret solutions. What happens to our money is our business.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. If you have any questions, please contact Patrice McDermott,, at 202 332 6736, or Pete Sepp, National Taxpayers Union, at 703-683-5700.


Access Info Europe
Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington
American Association of University Professors
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
American Civil Liberties Union
American Library Association
American Policy Center
Association of Research Libraries
Californians Aware
Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights
Citizen Outreach Project
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Common Cause
Defending Dissent Foundation
Downsize DC
Essential Information
Fund for Constitutional Government
Government Accountability Project
International Association of Whistleblowers
Liberty Coalition
Minnesota Coalition on Open Government
The Multiracial Activist
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Freedom of Information Coalition
National Taxpayers Union
National Whistleblower Center
9/11 Research Project
OMB Watch
Project on Government Oversight
Public Citizen
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Scientific Integrity Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
Semmelweis Society International
Society of Professional Journalists
Special Libraries Association
Taxpayers for Common Sense
U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation
Washington Coalition for Open Government
Washington Newspaper Publishers Association
Woodhull Freedom Foundation
Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, President, Sustainability 2030
San Francisco, California
Richard A. Knee, Freelance Journalist
San Francisco, CA
Ann Garrison
San Francisco, CA
Vicki Leidner, Real Estate Agent
San Francisco, CA
Daniel Macchiarini
Susan Nevelow Mart, UC Hastings College of the Law (affiliation for information only)
Chad Scherr, FOI Advocate
West New York, NJ
Harrison Sheppard, Attorney
San Francisco, CA
Dr. Laurence H. Shoup
Oakland, CA
Marie J. Summers, Textile Artist
San Francisco, California
Paul Wertz, Journalist, retired
Eugene, OR

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