Obama Makes Early Demands of Special Interests Public

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Think back to when Dick Cheney formulated energy policy early in President Bush’s first term. Because the White House did not release the names of the people Cheney met with, nor the demands they were making of the administration, the public did not know until 2005 that Cheney had met with oil executives, and that those executives supplied Cheney with “detailed energy policy recommendations.”

The Obama Administration is determined to do things differently. It is posting the policy proposals it is receiving from special interest groups on a section of its website called “Your Seat at the Table.” What is the teacher’s union demanding on education reform, for example? Not only can you find out on the transition’s site, you can comment on the union’s proposals and submit your own ideas on the subject.

It’s another early step toward open government for the new administration and it’s something to be applauded, especially if it leaves these documents up after decisions start to get made, so watchdog groups can determine whose wishes were fulfilled and whose were not.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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