Little more than 24 hours after telling the Washington Examiner that it would not release their ethics policy, a spokesman for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) has released a statement indicating a change of heart, noting the ethics guidelines would be available on the FCIC website (click here). Still missing, however, is a list of staff positions and salary levels, or a list of those hired by the commission as staff or consultants.
What prompted the change is anyone’s guess — a spokesman responded that “We decided it was appropriate to make public the Commission’s strong ethics policy for Commissioners and staff” – but it may have something to do with today’s editorial, which criticizes the group for a lack of transparency. Other news outlets picked up the thread as well. Dan Indiviglio of the Atlantic wrote:
What’s stranger is that the FCIC, which is a body that seeks transparency about Wall Street, refuses to disclose its own finances. According to the editorial, Angelides refuses to reveal how he’s spending the $8 million budget. He won’t release a list of staff members, salaries, or job descriptions. We requested this information as well, so should they decide to provide it, we’ll be sure to keep you posted. Of course, no matter how the FCIC is using the money, it’s pretty hard to imagine that it could be well spent, considering how little impact its report will ultimately have.
More to the point, John Carney points out the hypocrisy of a group demanding the employee information of private companies but refusing to shed light on itself:
FCIC also refused to give CNBC.com a list of its staff members, many of which are on loan to the commission from other government agencies, such as the Federal Reserve. That information, which could help shed light on why the commission feels its $8 million budget is too low or why it is reportedly embroiled in internal disputes, is still being kept secret.
The irony that FCIC, which recently cajoled the Managed Fund Association to turn over the contact information for thousands of hedge fund managers, is operating so secretively seems to be lost on its members. If daylight is the best disinfectant, why is FCIC closing the curtains on its own operations?
The FCIC should come forward with this information in order to secure its legitimacy.
A quick word about the ethics policy, by the way. According to Carney, “A spokesman for the FCIC said it was drafted by the general counsel, Gary Cohen. Cohen is a corporate lawyer who is currently “on leave” for Sidley Austin, one of the world’s largest law firms.”
The ethics policy itself appears to be a rehash of Congressional guidelines. Every day this week, Angelides’ staff refused to offer the guidelines — until today. Why was the chairman so reluctant to release something that was effectively available? And what does he have to hide in revealing who is receiving taxpayer dollars to work in his staff?