Good government is transparent and accountable

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During my days serving on the Big Sandy School Board I learned that good government is transparent and accountable to Montanans.

Elected officials must always answer to their constituents.

So when Montanans sent me to the U.S. Senate, I became the first Senator to post my official schedule online every day ó something that I still do to this day ó so all Montanans can see exactly what Iím doing and who Iím meeting with in my office. I made rules for myself and for my staff that are more strict than the Senateís own code of ethics.

I also passed sweeping ethics reforms that changed how Washington operated by banning gifts from lobbyists and closing the revolving door between Capitol Hill staff and lobbying firms.

To rid out corruption and government waste, I consistently vote to end automatic pay raises in Congress and prohibited members of Congress and staff from using knowledge gained through their Congressional work for personal financial gain.

These are major steps in the right direction, but there is still more work that must be done to shine light on the dark corners of Washington, D.C.

After years of pushing, Congress just passed my legislation recently that requires all candidates to electronically file their campaign disclosure reports online, which makes these reports immediately available to the public and saves taxpayers money. This is something I have always done voluntarily, and itís high time the rest of the Senate get on board.

I am also sponsoring the Public Online Information Act to make all public records from federal agencies permanently available on the internet in a searchable database. Iíve also introduced legislation to close the revolving door between lobbying firms and Capitol Hill, and to post all government contracts online.

Transparency in our government is part of our Montana way of life. And as a third-generation Montanan with deep roots in public service, itís important that I continue to hold Washington accountable to those same high standards I set for myself during my days on the Big Sandy School Board.

Jon Tester is Montanaís senior U.S. Senator.

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