Why You Should Care
As citizens of the United States, we expect our government to be transparent in its actions, especially as they relate to the handling of private property and individuals’ rights. It is in the Bill of Rights.
President Barack Obama said the following in a memorandum sent to the heads of executive departments and agencies: “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”
And yet, the Federal Government has gone to great lengths to withhold information on its rationale for enacting the “Sweep” of the profits of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Shareholders of these privately-owned entities who are directly affected by this decision deserve to know why and how it happened. More broadly, every American has a stake in challenging the United States Government’s lack transparency and vigorous attempts to hide how it conducted the people’s business.
Public officials will often want to conceal deliberations and discussions but, with very exceptions, the public’s right to know must always prevail. Federal Judge Margaret Sweeney rebuked government officials for their attempt at secrecy the Fannie and Freddie matter when she wrote, “The court will not condone the misuse of a protective order as a shield to insulate public officials from criticism in the way they execute their public duties.”
As Americans, it is our duty to hold our government accountable. Transparency is not just a word in a memo. Openness is fundamental to public trust in a democracy. Every American loses if the government can overreach as it did in the case of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and then hide it. What misdeeds will it conceal in the future? What happens when accountability is eroded?