“Put nothing in writing, ever”
posted at 4:46 pm on July 9, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Mark Tapscott reports on what should be the defining quote of the Hopenchange Administration. Climate Czar Carol Browner got a little too much into czar character when she told the Auto Industry Task Force to leave no record of the negotiations, or for that matter, no record of anything at any time. How many of those who voted for Barack Obama’s campaign figured on hearing this?
Carol Browner, former Clinton administration EPA head and current Obama White House climate czar, instructed auto industry execs “to put nothing in writing, ever” regarding secret negotiations she orchestrated regarding a deal to increase federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-WI, is demanding a congressional investigation of Browner’s conduct in the CAFE talks, saying in a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA, that Browner “intended to leave little or no documentation of the deliberations that lead to stringent new CAFE standards.”
Federal law requires officials to preserve documents concerning significant policy decisions, so instructing participants in a policy negotation concerning a major federal policy change could be viewed as a criminal act.
If this broke federal law, then Congress should demand Browner’s resignation. Even if it didn’t, the intent of the law is to keep both the people and Congress informed of executive-branch development and enforcement of policy. Browner’s admonition didn’t intend to keep information from the people, though, but from hostile members of Congress.
Democrats howled when Dick Cheney met in private with energy producers (as well as environmental groups) when developing the Bush administration’s first attempt at energy policy in 2001. They took the Bush administration to court to release the records of the meetings, and they griped about it for years afterward. Eventually they strengthened the law on transparency, which directly relates to Browner and the AITF, which exercises unprecedented power over private-sector manufacturers.
If we needed transparency at any time, we need it even more in the Age of Czars, whose power is almost unchallengeable within the system. The Obama Hope and Change response? “Put nothing in writing, ever.” That must be the new translation of Vero possumus, right?