A report from the House Energy and Commerce Committee revealed President Obama’s claim that White House staffers have the “toughest transparency rules of any administration in history” is false. Obama’s White House staffers have been conducting official business via personal email accounts and have held meetings in coffee shops to avoid the White House visitor log, according to the report.
A House Energy and Commerce Committee report out Tuesday is stocked with emails sent from private addresses and meetings scheduled away from the building to avoid official record. Among these are several sent to a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist by [Jim] Messina, then President Barack Obama’s then-deputy White House chief of staff, making promises about language for the health care reforms despite the resistance of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the measure. …
Other emails released on Tuesday show Jeff Smith, a senior adviser to the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, offering to meet with Jim Kirkland, an executive from the GPS industry, off the White House grounds. LightSquared clashed with the GPS industry for years as it tried to get approval to use frequencies near those used by GPS. Republicans have alleged that contracts for LightSquared, which was backed by several major Democratic donors, had received preferential treatment from the White House.
“Jim – coffee at Caribou Coffee – across the corner from the WH – would work at 11:30 a.m. on Friday…plus getting you through the new WH security rules these days almost takes an act of Congress almost (and you know how well that’s going these days),” Smith wrote. “[P]lus you’d appear on an official WH Visitor List which is maybe not want [sic] you want at this stage. …”
The New York Times reported in 2010 that White House officials were meeting with K Street lobbyists in Pennsylvania Avenue coffee shops to keep their activities off the official record.
Then in June 2011, White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney assured reporters that “all of our work is conducted on work e-mail accounts,” a claim that has been debunked by the revelation of the emails sent by Jim Messina and others.
Jim Messina is currently serving as Obama’s reelection campaign manager.