President Obama just signed his first bill into law today â the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act â but in the process, it appears he broke an earlier transparency-related promise.
As we noted before, one of Obamaâs pledges on change.gov, his transition Web site, was to "not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House Web site for five days."
But that didnât happen with the Ledbetter bill. Obamaâs had his hands on it for two days, but the first chance Americans got to comment on it on the White House Web site was today, after the president had already signed it into law. Weâve put in calls to the White House and are waiting to hear back for an explanation.
The bill, which was first introduced in the House and Senate three weeks ago, was mentioned in a blog post on the White House Web site on Jan. 25, but it simply pointed out that, hey, hereâs a bill coming up, and directed readers to check it out on THOMAS, the governmentâs legislation-tracking Web site. There wasnât an opportunity for the public to make comments there either.
Ellen Miller, the executive director of transparency watchdog Sunlight Foundation told ProPublica, "This is a very specific promise that the campaign made that hasnât been fulfilled." Noting that she was willing to cut a new administration some slack, she added, "This just strikes me as a day one promise, and they knew this bill was coming down the pipe and that it would be the first one he signed. To not have some system for posting the legislation online is shocking."
(Ms. Miller serves on ProPublicaâs Journalism Advisory Board.)
This isnât the first time Obamaâs hedged on a campaign promise. As we noted this morning, Obamaâs assurances that lobbyists "won't find a job in my White House" havenât exactly panned out.