The Hill newspaper is reporting that Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, threatened the General Accounting Office (GAO) with deep budget cuts unless GAO dropped its lawsuit against Vice President Cheney over Cheney’s refusal to turn over documents related to the Vice President’s Energy Policy Task Force.
An industry trade group for mutual fund companies, says it would be too burdensome for mutual fund companies to disclose how they voted when they cast votes for their investment clients in shareholder decisions. Until now, mutual fund companies have kept their voting records secret. The Investment Company Institute (ICI) is asking the Office of Management and Budget to overturn a decision by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require public disclosure of proxy voting records. (See “Ray of Sunshine at SEC?" in the February 10, 2003, issue of the Watcher).
In the wake of retirees' losses piling into the millions from the Enron and Worldcom scandals, the president's budget proposes a much needed infusion of cash into the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), part of which is earmarked to help the public in efforts to track corporate wrongdoing.
(Revised February 13, 2003)
The U.S. Department of Justice appears ready to ask Congress to allow broader surveillance of citizens and aliens and to grant wide new avenues for government censorship. A "confidential" draft of an 86-page bill called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 would help transform the government into the big brother you never had and would greatly constrain the free flow of information.
Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are preparing to introduce a resolution to make Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports and products publicly available on the Internet. The CRS is a research arm of the U.S. Congress, which authors numerous reports and products on issues ranging from the environment to budget.
Department of the Treasury v. City of Chicago, which likely will be heard by the Supreme Court next month, has the potential to significantly narrow the application of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Any time a case involving FOIA comes before the Supreme Court it is a cause of concern for public access advocates since any Supreme Court ruling introduces a binding precedent throughout the legal system.
Through claims of executive privilege, permitting industry to keep secret the information that companies voluntarily share with government, creating more loopholes to the Freedom of Information Act, and keeping information critical to environmental protection off the Internet, this administration and Congress are presiding over a new and unprecedented expansion of government secrecy.