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On The Record

A few years ago an older friend of mine had been hospitalized, and I had asked him how he was. He replied with a grin that he had been "Cheney-ized," meaning he had gotten a pacemaker. He says he got a lot of chuckles out of that lame joke made at the vice president's expense. A few months ago, I discovered that the law of non-profit and tax-exempt organizations had also experienced a different kind of Cheney-ization--that of secrecy. The organizations must be secret because Capitol Hill staffers are acting like they are.

How else do you explain that when these employees speak in public about their jobs--they literally write the law of tax exempt organizations--they also state that everything they have to say is "off the record." They may be trying to emulate the vice president's penchant for secrecy, but they are amazingly ineffective at it because all of their public statements are fully reported by the news media. What, then, is the point of their "off the record" claims? As one who has been in or around the news media for about 30 years, I haven't a clue.

Clearly, we have an "emperor has no clothes" situation here. Everything is fine and will continue to be so long as nobody points out the obvious. Let me be the naive believer in open government who says out loud to the people who make our laws: "It's all on the record."


Bruce D. Collins

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