The Washington Post

Rahm Emanuel, selective champion of government transparency

Rahm Emanuel, Chicago mayor and FOIA denier (AP Photo/Paul Beaty) (AP Photo/Paul Beaty/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Which serves as a profile, because it shows that Emanuel believes strongly in transparency just so long as that transparency stays at arm’s length. That is, Emanuel has opened up public records on “city contracts, crime statistics, lobbyists’ client lists and tax incentives. ‘We have made a tremendous amount of information — as it relates to city government — public for the first time,’ Emanuel said recently,” according to the Tribune story.

And just what has Emanuel blocked? Oh, just about anything that could shed light on his conduct and governing style. Again, the Tribune:

The mayor refused Tribune requests for his emails, government cellphone bills and his interoffice communications with top aides, arguing it would be too much work to cross out information the government is allowed to keep private. After lengthy negotiations to narrow its request for two months of these records, the newspaper was told that almost all of the emails had been deleted.

They say that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A corrollary: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely in spite of FOIA laws.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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