White House officials prefer to rendezvous with lobbyists and big business insiders off campus in order to avoid disclosure, according to e-mails made public by House Republicans.
In several cases, the officials’ messages were sent from non-governmental, personal e-mail accounts, which Republicans allege was intended to keep the correspondence from the public record.
"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)," wrote one official in the White House Office of Science and Technology policy to an executive in the GPS industry. "[P]lus you’d appear on an official WH Visitor List which is maybe not want [sic] you want at this stage …"
Other emails show then White House chief of staff Jim Messina using a non-governmental account to discuss language for the health care reform bill with a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist …
"I will roll [P]elosi to get the 4 billion," Messina told Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America lobbyist Jeffrey Forbes. "As you may have heard I am literally rolling over the house. But there just isn’t 8-10 billion."
Republicans have launched an investigation into whether Messina, who now serves as Obama’s campaign manager, violated federal law by trying to keep his talks with lobbyists off-the-record.