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The Beauty (and Danger) of Transparency

Jon Tester, the new senator from Montana, posts his daily appointment schedule on his website for all the world to see. According to this A.P. article by Mary Clare Jalonick, such transparency is “fulfilling a promise the Democrat made in his campaign against Republican Sen. Conrad Burns last year. Burns attracted heat for his relationship with Washington interests — most notably convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff — and ethics became a central issue. ‘It gives people better access to what I am doing,’ Tester said.”

As you can see from yesterday’s schedule, Tester had a bit of a logjam at 9:30 a.m.: simultaneous hearings of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Energy Committee, and Indian Affairs Committee. Unfortunately, the schedule doesn’t reveal how he actually spent that hour, nor does the schedule go past 5:00 p.m.

Also unfortunately, the archive only includes one week’s worth of Tester’s schedule. So there’s no way of knowing, for instance, how he spent Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Suffice it to say, however, that he didn’t celebrate it like these students at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. They have probably learned by now not to post such pictures on Facebook.

Transparency has its advantages — and its costs.