Washington, DC — New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is the only presidential candidate to step up and sign the “Public Service Pledge” – a promise to adhere to principles of open government if elected. Developed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the “Public Service Pledge” calls upon candidates to commit their presidency to –
- Conduct the people’s business in the open and facilitate oversight by keeping vital documents in the public domain;
- Protect scientists who report inconvenient truths and remove from office those who manipulate public agency science for political ends; and
- Support public servants who tell the truth and exhibit zero tolerance for appointees who retaliate or condone retaliation against whistleblowers.
Beginning in mid-June, PEER contacted all the campaigns by phone, fax, e-mail and letter asking whether the candidate would abide by policies that avoid practices, such as suppression and political manipulation of science, particularly on environmental issues, that have become one of the dark hallmarks of the Bush administration. The organization has followed up repeatedly with each campaign over the ensuing weeks.
“We applaud Governor Richardson for being forthright and committing without hesitation to protecting the values of public service,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Frankly, it is disquieting that the other candidates need so much time to ponder whether an unambiguous pledge of open and transparent government fits within their campaign strategies.”
Joining PEER in this effort is a group of prominent Americans, called the Leadership Council, whose members include well-known political activists such as Robert Kennedy, Jr., former Congressman Pete McCloskey, and Al Franken. In addition, the Council features public servants notable for being honest at great cost, such as climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, ex- FBI agent Coleen Rowley and former U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers.
Former Senator John Edwards sent a supportive but equivocal letter offering “to discuss where I stand on the issues that you have presented…” One other candidate, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, gave a definitive answer, rejecting the pledge “at this time” via a phone call from his campaign staff.
“We are mystified that these candidates seem unable to express a clear opinion on these basic issues,” Ruch added. “Presumably, voters want to know whether a presidential aspirant values honesty over message control.”
PEER is urging voters and reporters to contact recalcitrant candidates to find out how they propose to treat whistleblowers, protect scientific integrity and preserve the public’s right to know – and why they are taking so long to decide.