Ron Machen, Protecting Democracy Through Secrecy?

Ron Machen is in the news a lot these days with his hands full investigating several elected District officials or their staff. Most notably in this past week his team had the IRS and FBI raid, Ward 5 Councilmember Harry “Tommie” Thomas’ home and impounded a motorcycle and SUV as part of a corruption investigation. Ron Machen and his team seem to be doing the right thing by taking their time with these investigations and hopefully building solid cases if these officials are corrupt. What is troubling about his office is that they don’t release a budget. His office refuses to let the public know how much they spend on investigations ranging from the Mayor and several council members to most crimes on District streets to terrorism cases.

The US Attorney for the District of Columbia has a huge responsibility because that office serves local and national functions. What is troubling is the secrecy behind its budget. Why should we not know how much is spent on investigations and prosecutions? For that matter, if we want to be a state we would take substantial responsibilities from that office and thus we need to know now how much money that office spends on local District matters. For all of our problems and shortcomings in the District at least our budget is open and transparent and so should the budget of the US Attorney for the District of Columbia.

Government derives its power from the consent of the people yet how can the people offer their consent if they don’t know how much governance costs? I hope Ron Machen, as US Attorney for the District of Columbia, is able to fairly hold our public official accountable but as a public official he needs to be held accountable as well. The Justice Department needs to release this budget as they have done for other US Attorney Offices around the country.

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