House Republicans plan to probe the White House policy on disclosing its visitor records.

On Tuesday of next week, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “White House Transparency, Visitor Logs and Lobbyists.” The hearing comes after a report by the Center for Public Integrity detailing disclosure gaps in visitor records released by the White House.


In a memo describing the hearing, staff for the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee cite the Center’s report about the visitor records. They also list a number of questions for the Obama administration on how its disclosure policy has come to function.

“Have there been White House meetings with lobbyists and other interest groups about which information has not been released to the public?” the memo asks. “Have White House officials met with lobbyists and other interest groups outside of the White House in order to avoid generating records of such meetings?”

The White House decided in September 2009 to began voluntarily releasing its visitor records on a monthly basis. That policy came to be after the administration reached a court settlement with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which wanted the records released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The White House does not disclose every record under its policy. Exceptions are made for records that detail meetings with personal guests of the president or the vice president as well as sensitive meetings, such as those dealing with national security.

A White House official defended the visitor records disclosure policy.

“The White House access system is designed first and foremost to protect the president, vice president, their families and staff while imposing the smallest possible administrative burden — and the information contained in the records reflects that,” the official said. “That said, the Obama administration has taken unprecedented steps to increase transparency by releasing visitor records from the system each month to provide the American people with more information about their government. No previous White House has ever adopted such a policy.”