By Gautham Nagesh - 06/09/10 06:00 PM EDT
Issa rejected that claim in his letter, highlighting what he terms "questionable" e-mail exchanges obtained by the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog where McLaughlin appears to discuss policy and press strategies with Davidson and other Google employees. In another exchange, McLaughlin assures Google's Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf that the White House is not shying away from its commitment to net neutrality.
The White House has said the e-mails to Cerf are not a violation of the ethics pledge since Cerf currently serves as vice chair of a federal advisory committee at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The letter also takes McLaughlin to task for allegedly using his personal e-mail account to conduct official business. Issa previously wrote to McLaughlin on April 8 requesting more information on the incidents, but has yet to receive a response.
"The record demonstrates that [McLaughlin] used his personal email account to discuss official business or activities related to his official duties," Issa wrote. "Had his contacts not been released through Google Buzz, sparking media and Congressional scrutiny, it remains uncertain whether these records would ever have been appropriately archived pursuant to the PRA."
The letter includes a list of eleven questions on the specifics of the exchanges and requests the White House provide answers to the committee by June 24. The questions are listed below:
"To help the Committee gain a better understanding of the facts involved in this situation and the White House's internal review, I request that you provide the following information to the Committee by June 24, 2010.
1. All emails and documents provided to Consumer Watchdog through their FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request.
2. All emails form Mr. McLaughlin's Gmail account outside the scope of the FOIA request, between Mr. McLaughlin and other employees of the Federal Government.
3. A copy of Dr. Holder's May 10, 2010 internal memorandum to OSTP employees in resonse to the reprimand of Mr. McLaughlin.
4. A copy of the White House's internal investigation and all documents, statements, and records collected in the execution of that investigation.
In addition, I request that you provide responses to the following questions as part of the same June 24, 2010 production.
1. Have you or anyone in your office, reviewed Mr. McLaughlin's emails? If so, have you issued an opinion, specifically as it relates to the Presidential Records Act?
2. What is the White House policy for ensuring that all messages sent or received by the White House staff on private, non-governmental email accounts are preserved according to law?
3. What is the White House policy for retention of informaiton posted on social networking platforms such as Twitter, Google Buzz or Facebook?
4. What procedure exists for ensuring that all messages sent or received by White House staff on private, non-governmental email accounts or social networking platforms are properly categorized as presidential records or non-presidential records?
5. Who makes the decision about whether an email sent or received by White House staff on private, non-governmental email accounts or social networking platforms are properly categorized as presidential records or non-presidential records?
6. What review process has been instituted to ensure that each email is accurately categorized in pursuant to law?
7. How does the White House monitor employee use of personal email and social media platforms for official business on wireless or mobile sources such as laptops and handheld devices?
8. At a recent event, the Federal Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra noted his office cannot access social media platforms or personal email from their work computers. Given the administration's public support for and use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, how do White House employees access social media and personal email accounts?
9. Given that Google Buzz "may automatically suggest people for you to follow based on the people you email and chat with most," and other federal officials, including Aneesh Chopra were listed on Mr. McLaughlin's Buzz contact list, what actions have been taken to evaluate the extent to which personal email accounts or social media platforms are being used by White House personnel for official communications?
10. In light of Messrs. McLaughlin and Chopra [sic] use of personal email for official business, what actions have bene taken to advise the White House staff of the legal obligations imposed by the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act?
11. If your office has not taken any recent action to ensure that employees of the Executive Office of the President are complying with the requirements of the Presidential Records Act, please explain why you believe this is not necessary."