Robin Carnahan: Congressional records should be public

Monday, June 21, 2010 | 5:33 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan said Monday that the records of federal lawmakers should be open to the public, just as they already are for the president and bureaucrats.

Carnahan called for an expansion of the federal Freedom of Information Act during a cross-state campaign swing in which she criticized the corporate culture of Washington and her likely Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt.

Blunt and Carnahan are their parties' leading contenders in the Aug. 3 primaries to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, a Republican.

The federal open-records law currently applies to the White House and executive agencies but not to Congress. A similar Missouri records law also has been interpreted by state lawmakers not to apply to their individual offices.

Carnahan said the federal records law should be changed to apply both to individual members of the U.S. House and Senate and to congressional committees.

"Congress is still allowed to cut deals and sign letters and do all of this in the dark of night. I think that's wrong," Carnahan said during a a campaign stop in the basement of a microbrewery and restaurant in Jefferson City. "It's hard for us to find out about it. These folks work for us, and we ought to be able to know who they're meeting with and what they're up to."

Blunt campaign spokesman, Rich Chrismer, said later that Blunt also would support applying the Freedom of Information Act to Congress.

Both the Blunt and Carnahan campaigns have suggested their rivals could be more open about releasing information. Carnahan said Monday that Blunt should release a list of every spending earmark he ever sought. Blunt's campaign said Carnahan should release all her travel records from her work at the U.S. Export-Import Bank in the mid-1990s.

Carnahan proposed an expanded open-records law as part of what she called her "Stop What's Wrong with Washington" platform. She called for an end to corporate bailouts and criticized Blunt for backing a 2008 law that bailed out troubled financial institutions. She also portrayed Blunt as having a close relationship with the oil and gas industry, noting he has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions from them.

While Carnahan was holding her news conference, Blunt was hosting a media conference call to highlight that over the weekend he had completed his quest to visit all 114 counties and the city of St. Louis in the Senate campaign.

Blunt on Monday was touring farms and rural businesses in his southwest Missouri congressional districts in an effort to spotlight the importance of agriculture to the economy. The tour was organized by his congressional office, not his Senate campaign.


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