Climate Transparency Lacking on Senate Websites
by Brian Turnbaugh*, 7/29/2009
The websites of
It is odd that what is viewed as either a serious national security threat or the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the nation would get so little attention on the websites of those with significant power to do something about it. (Speaking of hoaxes – the website of infamous climate change denier Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) scored in the top five – the Senator's views on climate are crystal clear and there for all to see.)One theory is that by keeping constituents – and fellow senators – in the dark about their positions, senators increase their leverage. According to John Wonderlich, policy director at the Sunlight Foundation,
"There's an incentive to not have a clear position," he said. "For a senator whose vote is going to be courted, it's in their interest to be a little bit coy, because their vote becomes a bargaining chip ... It's all about jockeying for clout within your caucus, or trying to get a committee seat, or trying to secure support for some other measure."
Plus, it's harder to hold your senators accountable when you do not know where they stand on major policy questions.
The Congressional Management Foundation has been reviewing congressional websites for years. Their most recent report is the 2007 Gold Mouse Report, which presented awards to congressional websites, including a gold medal to Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), who received a D (8 out of 25 points) from Grist for his website's climate transparency.The