Lobby lists for total transparency

Reinhard Bütikofer, member of the European Parliament for the German Green Party, publishes a list of all his meetings. Whoever he meets up with, whether they’re lobbyist, interest groups, colleagues or citizens, they show up on this list.

This is way more transparent than politicians in Germany are legally required to be. More importantly though, it’s an important signal. It says: “You’ll always know who I’m talking to, who I’m listening to, who might be trying to influence me.”

I was surprised to learn that there wasn’t a big announcement. The list was mentioned just in passing in Bütikofer’s weekly column. In his post, he says he was inspired by the White House Visitor Record.

I do think, though, that initiatives like this deserve attention. As long as there are no legal requirements to publish lobbyists’ efforts more thoroughly (and regrettably it doesn’t look like this is going to happen anytime soon), more politicians should step up and voluntarily share this kind of information. It’s an important step in the fight against institutional corruption.

Props to Reinhard Bütikofer for being one of the first to go this way.

The next step, and that’s where it would get really awesome, would for all politicians to publish these lists in a standardized format so we could crunch the data thoroughly to see patterns emerging.

Update: Ulrich Kelber, Member of the German Parliament (Bundestag) lists all his income, too. (Thanks, Falk!)

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