Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), the leader of the House Republicans, tasked Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) as the party’s chief liaison to corporate lobbyists in early 2009 in preparation for the 2010 elections. Walden carefully courted business leaders by holding a series of meetings with trade associations and lobbyists to help shake the K Street “money tree” to support Republican candidates. After Republicans captured the House, Boehner appointed Walden to lead the Republican Office of Transition — which began meeting the day after the election, November 3.
The GOP Transition Office has widely publicized itself as a mechanism for guiding a “smooth and transparent transition into Republican majority.” Announcing the Transition Office, Walden said he would make Congress “more transparent, cost-efficient, and accountable to the people.” Just this morning, Roll Call published a story with the headline, “Walden: GOP Transition Focusing on Transparency.”
Given Walden’s promise of accountability and transparency, ThinkProgress traveled to the Transition Office today to request documents disclosing who has been attending the transition meetings, what ethics rules have been governing the meetings, and how things are actually being run differently. After asking Walden for a list of the transition meeting participants, he ducked back into the office. Later, a Republican staffer emerged to hand us a press release and a copy of a newspaper article about Walden’s leadership. None of the documents provided to ThinkProgress were actually official disclosures:
TP: Are there going to be any new ethics rules?
STAFFER: You are going to have to ask members of the committee that.
TP: Are lobbyists going to be allowed in these meetings?
STAFFER: You’ll have to ask members of the committee.
ThinkProgress witnessed dozens of men and women, none of them members of Congress, walk in and out of the room. Simply listing the members of Congress on the transition committee is nothing new. Since Republican transition meetings have been occurring since November 3, the public still does not know what has been discussed, which staffers or lobbyists have been involved, or if there are any actual new ethics rules.