GOP group crowdsources Obama administration info

Karl Rove, Former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush.
CBS

Crossroads GPS, the cash-rich Republican outside group planning to spend $120 million on the 2012 election in conjunction with its sister organization American Crossroads, announced Wednesday the launch of a website called www.Wikicountability.org "designed to crowd-source information gleaned from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and other public documents by organizations, individuals and journalists."

The site is meant to "facilitate efficient sharing of public information about the Obama Administration" and highlight FOIA requests that have gone unfulfilled. It has been set up to look like Wikipedia.

Among the documents uploaded so far is one showing that three Medicare advertisements featuring Andy Griffith cost the government $404,000 to produce and a total of $2.78 million to air. (This had been previously reported.) Others show meetings between two administration officials - Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Elizabeth Warren - and liberal journalists and union officials. (One of those journalists, David Corn, denies the meeting, and Crossroads did not immediately point him to the document on the site suggesting it took place.)

President Obama vowed that his would be the most transparent ever, and among the steps it has taken is disclosing the names of those who have come to the White House for meetings. Yet even some administration allies, like John Podesta, who led Mr. Obama's transition team, say the administration has done a poor job in responding to information requests. The Associated Press found earlier this month that the administration refused to release information for more than one in three requests, and responded to fewer requests last year despite an increase in requests.

"Two years after Obama pledged to reverse the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy and comply more closely with the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, The Associated Press grapples with many of the same frustrating roadblocks and head-scratching inconsistencies," the AP said. "...Exasperating delays and denials also affect ordinary citizens, researchers and businesses, and they frustrate the administration's goal to be the most transparent in history."

Last week the White House announced a website of its own, foia.gov, designed to make it easier to file Freedom of Information Act requests.

Crossroads GPS also announced Wednesday that it is suing the Obama administration for "repeated failure to comply with the Freedom of Information Act by providing information about the [Health and Human Services] department's granting of waivers from the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Act, also known as Obamacare."  The lawsuit seeks all documentation related to waivers of annual limit requirements in the health care law, which Republicans are seeking to repeal.

It's worth noting that Crossroads GPS, which is affiliated with Bush administration official Karl Rove, is not exactly a hallmark of transparency: The group refuses to disclose its donors, who have been reported to largely be "Wall Street hedge fund moguls and other wealthy donors."

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