SOURCE: Society of Professional Journalists

December 11, 2007 17:17 ET

SPJ Leaders Endorse Letter Supporting Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007

INDIANAPOLIS, IN--(Marketwire - December 11, 2007) - In another step toward ensuring government transparency, leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists signed onto a letter Friday with 31 open government groups, asking for Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Joseph Biden, D-Del., Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. and John McCain, R-Ariz. to co-sponsor S. 886, "The Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007." Currently, the only presidential candidate to co-sponsor S. 886 is Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. Additional co-sponsors include Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.

"Without this legislation, the American public will be kept in the dark about their recent presidents, from Reagan to the current Bush administration," said David Cuillier, chairman of SPJ's Freedom of Information Committee.

In November 2001, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13233, giving current and former presidents and vice presidents, and their heirs, broad authority to withhold presidential records or delay their release. "The Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007" (S. 886) would re-establish procedures to ensure the timely release of presidential records that the Presidential Records Act of 1978 was designed to ensure.

"The history of the highest office in the land and the leader of the free world should not be cloaked in secrecy," SPJ National President Clint Brewer said. "Nor should access to what are rightfully public records and papers be cloistered based on the decisions and whims of a few citizens, unelected to any office. Presidential families deserve our nation's respect, but have not earned the right to sway public policy and hamper government transparency."

The House version of this legislation (H.R. 1255) passed on March 14, 2007 by 333-93, including 104 Republicans. The Senate bill has broad bipartisan support, and cleared the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee by voice vote earlier this year.

To ensure additional support for S. 866, SPJ leaders are encouraging members and public citizens to contact their state senators and asking them to support measures to keep presidential records open.

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed public, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ and SDX, please visit www.spj.org.

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