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Missouri Congressmen Pushing Taxpayer Transparency Act

via KSMU archives
U.S. Rep. Billy Long (pictured above), along with U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, both of Missouri, are sponsoring the taxpayer

A couple of congressional lawmakers from Missouri are leading the charge to increase transparency in the Executive Branch. KSMU’s Shane Franklin has the story.

US Republican Congressman Billy Long of Missouri’s 7th District sponsored the Taxpayer Transparency Act, which this week passed the House of Representatives by unanimous vote.

The bill is intended to require the Executive Branch to disclose when taxpayer funds are used to pay for advertising. Long says he’s just looking to shed some light on where the money’s coming form.

“We in the House of Representatives and on the Senate side, we have to disclose all of our advertising, whether its paid for at taxpayer expense or paid for at campaign expense. We just want to extend that to the Executive Branch and the bureaucrats in D.C.,” said Long.

Long said the timing of the bill has nothing to do with the upcoming election season, and had he thought of it three years ago, he would have sponsored the bill then. Long added he would have even sponsored this bill under a Republican White House.

He says it’s a straightforward bill with support from both sides of the isle.

US Senator Roy Blunt has already followed Long’s lead, introducing companion legislation in the Senate. In a recent interview with Fox News, the Republican Senator from Missouri said it makes a big difference in political advertising to know who paid for the ad and why. 

“If you’re a taxpayer that pays taxes and you’re watching the television or listening to a commercial, probably good for you to know that you just paid for the guy to say, ‘Trust me, someday you’re going to have a big problem, and you’ll need this program to take care of it,’” Blunt said. 

Blunt said in FY2013, Executive agencies of the federal government spent over $892 million on advertising, and this was before spending was ramped up to promote the Affordable Care Act.

“If this is taxpayer money then it certainly couldn’t hurt anything for taxpayers to know, and might have some restraining capacity to make the government think carefully about what they’re buying, what they’re buying it on, and how much they’re buying,” said Blunt. 

In a statement, Missouri’s Democratic Senator, Claire McCaskill, said, “In my previous work on promotional materials from the Pentagon, I learned that we’ve got to be especially careful when taxpayer dollars are being used for public relations.”

McCaskill added that she’ll look at this legislation, and all other ideas on the table, to guard against waste.

For KSMU News, I’m Shane Franklin.