If you need a shining example of the utter disingenuousness of Barack Obama's commitment to government transparency, I have two words for you: Ron Sims. This lifelong political hack is to transparency what sunlight is to Dracula, what salt is to a slug, what kryptonite is to Superman, what "The View" is to intelligent debate.
That is: lethal.
In its press release announcing the nomination of the Seattle-area county executive to the No. 2 post at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the White House described Sims as a "visionary urban leader." The White House also touted Sims' "willingness to make the tough choices necessary to ensure that American tax dollars are spent wisely."
But Sims' key accomplishments in the Pacific Northwest have involved illegally keeping taxpayers in the dark. Despite his long-known notoriety in Washington State as an incompetent manager and obstinate campaign finance law-breaker, President Obama trusts Sims to oversee the day-to-day operations of a federal agency with 8,500 employees, a $39 billion yearly budget, and a chronic history of corruption and cronyism.
A Senate Banking Committee staffer told me this week that Sims' confirmation hearing will likely be scheduled soon after the Easter recess. Let's hope someone on the committee is talking to the folks who have fought the real Sims in his own backyard.
Ask Stefan Sharkansky. A Seattle blogger and citizen activist, Sharkansky blew the whistle on election fraud shenanigans involving Sims' office during the November 2004 gubernatorial election. He has fought since December 2004 to obtain public records related to gross errors in the county's ballot counting. Since filing suit against Sims in October 2005, Sharkansky told me, "the county has released a number of additional documents which confirm both (a) that county officials unlawfully counted hundreds of ineligible ballots in the 2004 election (a multiple of the 133 vote "margin of victory" in the governor's race); and (b) that they unlawfully withheld documentation of the illegal vote counting from public disclosure for many months (up to a few years) after the documents were first requested."
"What we've seen is not just a lazy agency dragging its heels to respond to document requests, but an organized effort to cover up official misconduct and to obstruct justice," Sharkansky stated in his suit. His case goes to trial next week.