Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have again asked the Obama administration to provide all copies of work-related emails that were written or received on personal email accounts, after their 2011 request was met with no reply from the White House.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Oversight and Investigations subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) renewed their request in Wednesday letters to White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina.
Republicans have argued since last year that despite the Obama administration's pledge to be open and transparent, many White House officials are using personal email to conduct work, and are even holding meetings outside government buildings to avoid disclosure of some of this work. They particularly noted that Messina was known to use his personal email when working with labor union representatives when the White House was working to pass the 2010 healthcare law.
Upton and Messina further noted that White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed this last week, after having initially denied it.
"Last Wednesday, Aug. 1, White House press secretary Jay Carney finally acknowledged that Mr. Messina 'had a longstanding personal email account in which he got traffic,' " they wrote to Ruemmler. "These new claims directly contradict Mr. Carney's June 2, 2011, assertion that 'all of our work is conducted on work email accounts.' "
The letter said Carney's comments raise the question of who else is using personal emails, and whether they are properly forwarding all of these emails to be included in the presidential record.
The letter asked the White House to broadly describe its email policy, and to provide copies of all work-related emails from Messina's personal email account and all other work-related emails from the personal accounts of all other White House employees. A similar letter was sent to Messina.
Republicans also asked for specific evidence that two key personal emails related to the healthcare law were forwarded to his official White House account. One from Messina in 2010 told the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America that Messina would "roll" then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to get funding needed for the healthcare law.
The other, from senior White House adviser Jeff Smith, advised a company representative to only communicate on Smith's personal email. In both cases, the letter asked for proof that both of these emails would be preserved in the Obama administration's official records.
Upton and Stearns made similar requests in 2011, but the White House never replied. "We therefore reiterate the requests made almost 10 months ago," they wrote this week. "Please fully respond to those requests by Aug. 16, 2012."
Last week, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) also demanded the White House emails, giving the administration until Aug. 17 to respond.