Child’s play

The rebuttal offered by the Rappahannock Citizens for Community Empowerment Board of Directors (RCCE) for refusing to disclose the names of its members and donors rests on three weak explanations often employed by children.

First, RCCE argues they don’t have to release the names of their donors because other organizations don’t (in the case of the Foothills Forum, a point refuted by the paper’s editors). Reminds me of that old childhood defense, “Well, Mom, everyone else was doing it.” No sane parent ever bought that line of argument, and in RCCE’s case, we shouldn’t either.

The second reason given by RCCE for not releasing their list of contributors is that it would subject their benefactors to unsubstantiated “personal attacks,” which somehow would fuel a blame game being waged against the RCCE. Really? Nowhere in the letter calling for disclosure is there even a hint that this was or is the sort of end game being contemplated or sanctioned. And it’s pure fiction for the RCCE to suggest such. The only game being played around here is, “I’ve Got a Secret,” and the only players are the RCCE. Claiming shadowy intentions and sinister motives living inside the minds of anyone who dares challenge the RCCE’s secrecy is childish poppycock.

Finally, RCCE states that those who signed the letter are opposed to the “changing local politics.” This is the kind of a ruse a child would use to divert attention away from their actions. Not buying it.

RCCE’s reasoning to avoid full disclosure doesn’t pass the parental sniff test. It is disingenuous for an organization whose stated mission is to increase knowledge and understanding of state and federal laws and whose primary goal is to promote “open and honest” government to hide behind these kinds of child-like excuses. Apparently, transparency only applies to the RCCE’s governmental targets.

Clearly, the RCCE is entitled to keep their books closed to the kind of sunshine they so devoutly espouse. But why should anyone (other than their donors) listen to, support or take seriously an organization purportedly committed to open and transparent government when the organization can’t or won’t apply the same standards and rules to itself?

Time for the RCCE to put an end to their perplexingly weak, defensive and adolescent posture and divulge their donor list so all can make fact-based judgments about the group. I suggest that the RCCE play an old game from their childhood: It’s called, “Show and Tell.”

Mike Ferrell

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