President Obama ran in 2008 while making big promises on transparency and ethics, including vows to ban lobbyists from working for him, to throw open negotiations on health care legislation, to speed freedom-of-information requests and to let voters have direct input before he signed bills into law.
He is making no such promises in this year’s campaign, though, nor is he taking a victory lap on those old vows.
That’s because while he made some progress — particularly in making White House visitor logs public — his record on the other promises falls short of what he pledged.
Freedom-of-information requests are taking even longer, dozens of lobbyists have earned waivers to work for him, the presidential public campaign finance system remains unusable and, more recently, House investigators have released documents showing the backroom deals he cut with health insurance industry players to win support for his 2010 overhaul.
“We were pretty excited when he first came in about his commitment to transparency — that seemed pretty good compared to the Bush years,” said Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an open-government group. “Unfortunately, it hasn’t panned out that way. If anything, the Obama administration is less transparent than prior administrations.”