Leading Watchdogs Concerned with White House Transparency & Record Keeping

May 6, 2011

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations this week held a hearing to examine "White House Transparency, Visitor Logs, and Lobbyists." The hearing demonstrated that the Obama administration's promises of transparency do not square with their actual policies.  Unfortunately, the White House refused to send a witness to testify about their own transparency policies. 

Watchdog groups have cried foul over the incomplete White House visitors logs and numerous closed-door meetings regarding the $2 trillion health care reform legislation, which the White negotiated with various lobbying associations. The committee's ongoing investigations have met resistance to disclose even some of the most basic details about White House dealings. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, Sunlight Foundation Policy Director John Wonderlich, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Chief Counsel Anne Weismann testified before the subcommittee despite the White House's absence. During the hearing, top Oversight Subcommittee Democrat Rep. Diana DeGette called concerns that the White House visitor log disclosure system was a "data dump" that shields visitors rather than disclosing them as "valid criticisms."

White House a no-show on transparency - Surprise and disappointment expressed from both sides of the aisle.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) echoed GOP concerns, stating "It is irresponsible, wrong, and a dereliction for the administration not to send a witness."

Watch the video HERE

No transparency on health care - Obama White House flip flops in responding to Energy & Commerce members' search for answers on secret health negotiations

In March 2010, the Obama administration wrote to Energy and Commerce Committee members, including Rep. Michael Burgess, that "no relevant" health care documents were available. However, the message was completely different in March 2011.  In a response to Energy and Commerce Republicans' call for health care documents, White House Counsel Robert Bauer dismissed the request for documents as too "vast and expensive."  As Rep. Burgess asked, "What are we to believe?"

Watch the video HERE

FOIA concerns revealed

The White House discloses visitor logs 90 to 120 days after they have been processed, although FOIA demands they be released within 20 days - Judicial Watch's Tom Fitton: Obama's "policy is contrary to federal law."  The Sunlight Foundation also agrees release of visitor logs has been lacking.

Watch the video HERE

Meanwhile some logs are still being withheld without explanation as the watchdog goes on to call White House release and disclosure of records a "lawless process."

White House has granted itself 32 different waivers to own ethics rules

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Judicial Watch's Fitton discuss the 32 different waivers that the White House has granted itself to their own ethics rules that President Obama implemented via executive order. 

According to watchdog Judicial Watch, the White House's ethics rules "have a backdoor way of avoiding it - you could drive a truck through."
 

Watch the video HERE

Here is a sampling of some of the headlines from the hearing

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Obama's Empty Transparency Rhetoric

U.S. NEWS: Congress Takes Aim at White House Openness

UPI: GOP: Obama administration not transparent

CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY: House GOP criticizes White House Visitor Logs

THE HILL: White House skips oversight hearing on transparency

WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Obama White House doesn't show up to House probe into its lack of transparency

TALK RADIO NEWS SERVICE: GOP Evaluates Obama's Transparency Record

HUMAN EVENTS: White House Brownout on Clandestine Coffee Klatches

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has launched a number of investigations on behalf of the American public, including reviews of the secret health care negotiations and the Department of Energy stimulus loan guarantee program. The White House continues to delay in providing even basic information.

Recent media reports underscore the questionable nature of White House record keeping, revealing that White House visitor logs do not provide an accurate account of who has actually visited the White House grounds. The White House's efforts to escape scrutiny by meeting with special interests groups at a neighboring Caribou Coffee are also well documented.

Read more details about the subcommittee's concerns with White House transparency HERE.  
 
 
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