Meet Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco), champion of open government:
During the last session of Congress – under Speaker Nancy Pelosi – this top-down, closed-door mentality reached an all time high. There was zero open debate on the House floor. Lawmakers were blocked from offering ideas and amendments. Congress spent money the government doesn’t have and failed to write a federal budget, as families and business tightened their belts. Bills with real impacts on every American like ObamaCare and a cap-and-trade national energy tax were written in secret and jammed through the House of Representatives. In fact, during a 2010 speech to the National Association of Counties Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously declared that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
The American people deserve to see how their government works, read the bills Congress is considering and have their voices heard by those who represent them. [Emphasis is mine.]
Those words, dated February 25, 2011, were taken from Congressman Hastings’ weekly column on his congressional website. But what a difference a month makes!
Today, Doc Hastings is exposed as our latest hypocrite as he and his staff engaged in a cloak and dagger operation to secretly draft three offshore drilling bills, with the help of Big Oil (a la Dick Cheney).
The House Natural Resources Committee chairman and his staff wanted to keep the details of his three offshore drilling measures off-limits, even to other Republicans on the committee, so they decided to keep emails to a minimum.
Hastings’s staff discussed the bills largely through face-to-face conversations to prevent emails from being leaked, a spokesman said.
Hastings also held a closed-door, invitation-only meeting with top energy lobbyists, including representatives from Chevron, Patton Boggs and about a dozen others.
While the story of Doc Hastings’ clandestine legislative activity just broke yesterday, there can be no doubt that the crafting of these bills has been going on for weeks, if not months, demonstrating how hollow the Congressman’s words in his weekly column are with regard to transparency in government.
We see how our government works, Congressman Hastings, and it’s not the way you allegedly profess that it should . We see secret meetings with corporate interests to draft bills that are favorable to them but not to the people you represent. It’s the same game that was played when you and your colleagues left the financial services industry to its own devices in the name of deregulation.