Mitt Romney's top political adviser said Thursday that emails between White House officials — including Obama campaign manager Jim Messina — and lobbyists sent from personal email accounts appeared to violate federal laws.
"This appears to be a violation of the law which requires that all official communications be preserved," Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstom said on a conference call with reporters Thursday.
A report published Tuesday by House Republicans found that Obama administration officials would set up meetings with lobbyists at coffee shops near the White House — a move seemingly intended to keep the visits from appearing on official White House visitor logs. Some of the emails, including discussion of the president's healthcare bill with a pharmaceutical lobbyist, were also sent from Messina's personal email address.
The Presidential Records Act requires that all official executive-branch communications — including emails — be archived.
Asked about the emails on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney downplayed Messina's use of a personal account.
“Mr. Messina had a longstanding personal email account in which he got traffic. In an effort to comply with all the regulations pertaining to emails, he would forward emails to his White House account or copy his White House account so that those emails would be part of presidential record,” Carney said.
But Republicans look primed to hammer the president over transparency issues.
"I think it's very troubling that Jim Messina … when he was serving in the White House as a senior aide, made promises to a lobbyist about obtaining billions of dollars in public funds, and he did it using his personal email, which suggests he wanted to hide the conversation," Fehrnstrom said.