Blown To Bits

Why Are You Asking, Mr. President?

Saturday, April 4th, 2009 by Harry Lewis

I went to the White House web site to download a copy of the recent financial disclosures of Lawrence Summers, formerly Harvard president and now Chief Economic Advisor to the president of the U.S. (I have a particular interest in Mr. Summers, because I have thought a lot about his Harvard years.) Before they would give it to me, they wanted some information about me: My name, addresses (postal and email), and occupation. They also asked me to affirm that I wouldn’t use the disclosure in a bad way (I paste that question below).

Any idea why this is necessary, given that public disclosures are, by nature, public information? In any case, there is no need to supply that information — DocStoc allows you to download the same document, free and with no questions asked. That’s what I did.


The affirmation required by the White House:

I am aware that pursuant to section 105(c) of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended and 5 C.F.R. § 2634.603(f) of the implementing OGE regulations, it is unlawful for any person to obtain or use a report:

(1) for any unlawful purpose;
(2) for any commercial purpose, other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public;
(3) for determining or establishing the credit rating of any individual; or
(4) for use, directly or indirectly, in the solicitation of money for any political, charitable, or other purpose.

The Attorney General may bring a civil action against any person who obtains or uses a report for any such prohibited purpose as set forth above. The court may assess against such a person a penalty in any amount not to exceed $11,000. Such remedy shall be in addition to any other remedy available under statutory or common law.

One Response to “Why Are You Asking, Mr. President?”

  1. Jason of Docstoc Says:

    Thanks for mentioning Docstoc. We try to make sure that we have up to date documents particularily pertaining to government issues.

    Jason Nazar