The good government community lost a close friend and ally last week with the passing of former Rep. Steve Horn (R-CA).
Rep. Horn was the first recipient of POGO's Good Government Award, and served as a member of our advisory board. During his time in Congress, Rep. Horn was relentless in his efforts to challenge executive branch secrecy and improve the public's access to information. In 1996, he co-sponsored legislation to expand the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to include electronic records, and he continued to fight secrecy abuses throughout his time as Chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. He also held the first hearings into the failures of the Department of Interior to collect royalties from oil and gas leases in 1996.
What struck me then and now is the critical role that public access to Government information plays in our democracy....It is key to having an informed citizenry and to supplying our citizens with the knowledge they need to hold their Government accountable. Therefore, I have always been a strong advocate of [FOIA].
Rep. Horn was also a champion of congressional oversight. Whether he was forcing the CIA to hand over documents or exposing the Army employee who used a government purchase card to pay for escort services, his hearings served as a model for holding federal agencies accountable. Rep. Horn was also a supporter of meaningful campaign finance reform, and he refused to accept any contributions from PACs.
You can watch many of Rep. Horn's hearings and floor speeches in C-SPAN's video archives.
Our warmest thoughts and prayers go out to Rep. Horn's family and friends. He will be deeply missed.