Denton Record-Chronicle: Michael Burgess: Transparency - A currency for government accountability
by Rep. Michael Burgess
Transparency is the government’s currency for accountability. Over the past several months, there have been several instances where elected officials were less than transparent. While it is difficult for some members of Congress, it is a top priority for me.
It makes sense why the American public has little faith in government transparency. Just this past year, we watched as Congress was paralyzed by a partisan exercise — impeachment. Leaders of this investigation concealed details behind closed doors and armed guards. Every day there was a new story about how Republican members were denied access to documents that are the property of the House of Representatives and their right to view. I sent several letters to Democratic leadership requesting to view the materials gathered during the impeachment hearings. I am still awaiting a response.
Prior to the impeachment vote in December, I hosted two telephone town halls to hear from constituents. The advancement of technology bridges the gap between me and residents of the 26th District when I am needed in Washington.
I prioritize being accessible to constituents. I regularly host either a telephone town hall or an in-person town hall because I do value being able to speak with constituents. In a national crisis or a public health crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic, constituents want consistent access to their member of Congress. During these times, Congress needs to be especially mindful that we are forthcoming with the public.
Just recently, I hosted a telephone town hall focused on the coronavirus. I understand that the news of this virus is constantly changing. Americans want to hear a healing voice of reason coming from their elected officials. With this understanding, I took advantage of available technology to speak with constituents. Gone are the days when one would have to wait until they were back in their home districts to be able to engage.
The actions of congressional members over the past few months indicate how much they value transparency. I have consistently and regularly shared my thoughts whether it is through a town hall, by social media posts or with video addresses and newsletters to respond to constituent questions and concerns.
Another way I hold myself accountable to the district is by producing a year-end report. By releasing an annual report, constituents are provided a full breakdown of what I accomplished in the past year.
Transparency in government is critical. It is something that I strive for each day. I will continue to put out a clear message of the work I am doing to find solutions on behalf of the people in the 26th District of Texas.
Originally published in the Denton Record-Chronicle.
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