December 11, 2006

Rep. Wicker vs. LegiStorm: It's ON

Rogerwicker_1 Regular readers know that we have special appreciation for LegiStorm, the start-up site that publishes congressional staff salaries on the web.  Our list of Senate press secretary salaries, based on LegiStorm data, is one of our most-trafficked posts ever.

Anyway, Roll Call reports today that Rep. Roger Wicker (R-MS, right) "introduced legislation last week that would prevent the names of House staffers from being listed in the public reports on chamber disbursements."  The bill is a direct response to LegiStorm.

LegiStorm founder Jock Friedly offered the following pointed rebuttal to Potomac Flacks:

"Congressman Wicker would do better to focus on the needs of Hurricane Katrina victims in his state than to try to prevent the disclosure of how he and his colleagues spend taxpayer dollars. He is trying to prevent the dissemination of important public information by introducing this anti-LegiStorm legislation."

More Friedly: "LegiStorm has been hailed by journalists and bloggers around the country as a valuable public resource. The fact that we have had millions of page views since launching this fall is evidence that there is a demand by the public for this kind of information."

Our two cents: it's hard to win a battle of public opinion in the Internet age when you're on the anti-transparency side. Exhibit A: the earmarks database debate. Over to you, Rep. Wicker.

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    Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, D.C. and Austin,TX-based Republican strategist and communications consultant and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. In his career he has managed a winning Congressional campaign and worked in the U.S. Senate, at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, at a leading international PR firm, on a presidential campaign in Iowa and in White House presidential advance. Follow him on Twitter - @MattMackowiak

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    Laura Gross is currently president of Scott Circle Communications. She has served as deputy director of communications at the DNC, was Gov. Howard Dean's Communications Director and she worked in the press office at USAID during the Clinton administration. Her experience also includes time in the PR department of National Public Radio and she was part of Vice President Gore's advance team when he was in The White House.
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    Blain K. Rethmeier - Contributor
    Blain K. Rethmeier is currently the Senior Vice President for Public Affairs for the American Insurance Association (AIA). Rethmeier joined AIA from the White House where he served as Special Assistant to the President for Communications and directed communications for the National Economic Council and Homeland Security Council. Prior to joining the White House, Rethmeier served as Press Secretary for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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