At first glance, transparency would seem to be an unqualified good in government, almost synonymous, in fact, with “good” government. Journalists have always loved transparency because it allows them to report all the seemingly boring stuff of government that can hide so many misdeeds.
But there’s another side of transparency in this brave new world of big, nanny-state government, where officeholders and bureaucrats rule by ideology and the quasi religion of progressivism. In a sane world, government has no business concerning itself with people’s ideas, beliefs, and political affiliations.
Nevertheless, the current federal administration and its political fellow travelers in public office nationwide have shown a disturbing tendency to use the power of government to punish enemies.
Already, we’ve had businessmen who oppose our president being subjected to IRS audits. And more recently we’ve had a fast-food restaurant chain owner threatened by the Democratic mayors of two large cities with unequal and unconstitutional treatment by government agencies. Corporate CEOs and donors to conservative groups and causes, have become targets of harassment from left-wing groups.
Following in these questionable footsteps, we now have North Carolina’s Democratic state treasurer seeking information that is none of her business from corporations in whose stock she has invested, or is considering investing, the taxpayers’ money:
State Treasurer Janet Cowell is pushing to require Nike Inc. and other large corporations to make their political contributions more transparent, a move that has drawn skepticism.
In addition to seeking political disclosure from Nike, Cowell, a Democrat, also has joined efforts to get further disclosure of political spending by Devon Energy and Halliburton. The state’s pension funds hold substantial investments in the three companies — roughly $50 million in Nike alone.
“In light of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, the treasurer believes that companies involved in political activities should disclose their political spending and board oversight policies to make sure these expenses are in the best interest of shareholders,” Julia Vail, a spokeswoman for Cowell, said in an email statement.
Given recent history, the public has good reason to be suspicious of Cowell’s interest in the political activities of corporations. The abuse of information gained in the name of transparency in the past three years by left-wing groups and Democratic officeholders hardly warrants us giving her the benefit of the doubt.
Though a state treasurer may, by some gossamer thread of logic, think of herself as a shareholder in a corporation, it is only in the hothouse of left liberalism now predominating among liberal officeholders that a state treasurer would presume to tell a corporation what’s in the best interest of its shareholders.
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