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Commentary by Howard Phillips, Chairman of The Conservative Caucus
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  Government Accountibilty | September 12, 2006


             I was pleased to sign the coalition letter to Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist demanding action on the Coburn-Obama bill S.2590 to promote Federal funding accountability and transparency. A copy of the letter to Majority Leader Frist follows:

September 6, 2006
An Open Letter to Majority Leader Frist: Bring S. 2590 to the Floor for a Vote!

Dear Majority Leader Frist:

On behalf of the millions of taxpaying citizens represented by the groups signed below, we strongly urge you to bring S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, to the Senate floor for a vote. The bill, sponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL), would direct the Office of Management and Budget to create a publicly-available website that would list every entity receiving federal financial assistance, such as grants or contracts, and the totals awarded for each fiscal year. Such a website would entail very little cost and would greatly increase transparency in the distribution of government funding. At last, those who most deserve to know about this process – the American people – would have a tool to examine and evaluate the federal government’s funding decisions and priorities.

And yet, after being "hotlined" for unanimous passage, the bill was suddenly derailed when a secret hold was placed, indicating a Senator would object to it on the floor. After weeks of investigation, ordinary citizens used phone calls and several websites to narrow the holds down to Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Robert Byrd (D-WV). Both Senators then admitted publicly to the holds. And yet, Stevens has renewed his hold and, along with an anonymous Democrat, stands in the way of this common-sense legislation.

This unprecedented flurry of "outside the Beltway" action from across the political spectrum suggests that support for this bill is strong among the general public. Advocates from all ideological points of view share the common notion that transparency of and public access to government information is vital to the health of our political system. Through letters such as this one, over 110 groups – of all ideological persuasions – have conveyed to the Senate their strong support for this measure.

Citizens should no longer be forced to navigate the confusing labyrinth of bureaucracy just to find out how their tax dollars are spent. Furthermore, internal conflicts and parliamentary maneuvers should not prevent the passage of a bill with such widespread support. Americans of all political stripes have spoken with a unified voice in favor of transparency and accountability. Now, they call upon you to bring S. 2590 to the Senate floor for a vote as soon as possible.

We thank you for your public commitments to bring this bill to the floor and want to work with you to ensure this important legislation receives a straightforward vote when the Senate reconvenes.


John Berthoud, President
National Taxpayers Union

Gary D. Bass, Executive Director
OMB Watch

Ashok Mehan
ADEZZA Federal Consulting

Emily Ferry, Executive Director
Alaska Transportation Priorities Project

J. William Lauderback, Executive Vice President
The American Conservative Union

Scott Barstow, Director of Public Policy
American Counseling Association

Darryl Fagin, Legislative Director
Americans for Democratic Action

Mary Alice Baish, Washington Affairs Representative
American Association of Law Libraries

Helena R. Berger, Chief Operating Officer
American Association of People with Disabilities

Dr. Jane Orient, Executive Director
American Association of Physicians and Surgeons

F. Patricia Callahan, President and General Counsel
American Association of Small Property Owners

Kevin Goldberg
American Society of Newspaper Editors

Tim Phillips, President
Americans for Prosperity

Timothy Wise, President
Arlington County Taxpayers Association

Richard Karpel, Executive Director
Association of Alternative News Weeklies

Prue Adler, Associate Executive Director
Association of Research Libraries

Bruce Martin
Buddhists for Fair Taxation

Peter Scheer, Executive Director
California First Amendment Coalition

Terry Francke, General Counsel
Californians Aware

Charlie Cray, Director
Center for Corporate Policy

Ari Schwartz, Deputy Director
Center for Democracy and Technology

J. Bradley Jansen, Director
Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights

Jeffrey Mazzella, President
Center for Individual Freedom

Robert E. Wordlaw, Executive Director
Chicago Jobs Council

Barbara Anderson, Executive Director
Citizens for Limited Taxation

Doug Bandow, Vice President of Policy
Citizen Outreach

Debbie Weinstein
Coalition on Human Needs

Chellie Pingree, President and CEO
Common Cause

Lawrence G. Sandoval, Staff Representative
Communication Workers of America

Keith Runyon, President Pro Tem
Concerned United Taxpayers

Naomi E. Shaiken, President
Connecticut Call to Action

Howard Phillips, Chairman
The Conservative Caucus, Inc

Bob Shavelson
Cook Inletkeeper (AK)

Thomas Schatz, President
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

John Isaacs, President
Council for a Livable World

Edward J. Spar, Executive Director
Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics

Jim Babka, President

Phyllis Schlafly, President and Founder
Eagle Forum

John Richard
Essential Information

John McLaughry, President
Ethan Allen Institute

Bob Williams, President
Evergreen Freedom Foundatio

Steven Aftergood, Director
Federation of American Scientists

Erich Pica
Friends of the Earth

Tom Devine, Legal Director
Government Accountability Project

Richard O. Rowland, President
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Rick Hind, Legislative Director

Jon Coupal, President
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Kevin McLaughlin, President
Iowans for Discounted Taxes

Michael D. Ostrolenk, National Director
Liberty Coalition

Patrick Sammon, Executive Vice President
Log Cabin Republicans

Maria Powell
Madison Environmental Justice Organization

Richard Falknor, Executive Vice President
Maryland Taxpayers Association

Forest Thigpen, President
Mississippi Center for Public Policy

Charles Davis, Executive Director
National Freedom of Information Coalition

Greg Speeter, Executive Director
National Priorities Project

Doug Kagan, Chairman
Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom

Marge Clark, BVM, Lobbyist
NETWORK: National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Joel Kupferman, Executive Director
New York Environmental Law & Justice Project

Michael Mariotte, Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Patrice McDermott, Director

Bob Barr, Chairman
Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances

Marjorie A. Parker
Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois

Monica Moore, Program Director
Pesticide Action Network North America Regional Center

James A. Landrith, Jr., Founder
Pious Pagan Publishing

Danielle Brian, Executive Director
Project on Government Oversight

Timothy J. Schmaltz, Coordinator/CEO
Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition

Peter Suber, Open Access Project Director
Public Knowledge

Lucy Dalglish
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

William Westmiller, Chairman
Republican Liberty Caucus

Paul Gessing, President
Rio Grande Foundation

Nick Sauvie, Executive Director
ROSE Community Development (OR)

Kathy Burns

Ellen Miller, Executive Director
Sunlight Foundation

Steve Ellis, Vice President of Programs
Taxpayers for Common Sense Action

David Strom, President
Taxpayers League of Minnesota

Rick Durham, President
Tennessee Tax Revolt, Inc

John Chelen, President
Unison Institute

Jeff Blum, Executive Director
US Action

Dane von Breichenruchardt
Executive Director
U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation

Ed Mierzwinski, Consumer Program Director
U.S. Public Interest Research Group

Craig Gillette

Rose Bogaert, Chair
Wayne County Taxpayers Association, Inc

Sylvia G. Ray, Executive Director
Women’s Center of Fayetteville (AR)


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