White House visitor records show CEOs, celebrities, lobbyists, familiar names

White House visitor records show CEOs, celebrities, lobbyists, familiar names

The White House late Friday afternoon released 500 records of visitors and hailed the move as a historic moment in transparency.

The 500 visitors reflect 110 disclosure requests processed by the administration, according to a post on the White House blog written by Norm Eisen, special counsel to the president on ethics and government reform.

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The White House had already announced it would in December begin posting all White House visitor records under the terms of its new voluntary disclosure policy.

Eisen said the move on Friday represented a decision to answer specific requests for visitor records.

The Bush administration fought in court to not disclose their White House visitor records. The Obama administration at first followed suit but later reversed itself, saying it would release most post-Sept. 15 visitor records in December.

The period of records released on Friday covers the period of time between Jan. 20 and July 31, but Eisen said future batches will be posted on an ongoing basis.

Major Wall Street bank CEOs were among those who visited the White House. The CEOs include John Mack, head of Morgan Stanley; Vikram Pandit, head of Citigroup; and Lloyd Blankfein, head of Goldman Sachs.

Several names stand out among the disclosures. People named Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers and Michael Jordan all visited the White House since Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden has a lot at stake in first debate Biden to debate for first time as front-runner John Kerry: Play based on Mueller report is 'an act of public service' MORE became president, according to the logs.

But Eisen said the Jeremiah Wright who visited is not the controversial Chicago preacher who Obama rebuked during his presidential campaign. The William Ayers who visited is not the former member of the Weathermen, and Michael Jordan was not the NBA great.

“The well-known individuals with those names actually never came to the White House,” Eisen writes. “Nevertheless, we were asked for those names and so we have included records for those who were here and share the same names.”

Though Obama's administration has taken pains to distance itself from K Street, a number of prominent lobbyists also show up on the list, including Steve Elmendorf of Elmendorf Strategies, Tony Podesta of the Podesta Group and Heather Podesta of Heather Podesta and Partners.

The names of prominent lobbyists for financial firms and trade associations also show up on the list.

The lobbying trade association lobbyists include: Edward Yingling, head of the American Bankers Association (ABA); Camden Fine, head of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA); Scott Talbott, of the Financial Services Roundtable and Fred Becker, of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU); and Dan Mica, of the Credit Union National Assocation (CUNA).

Yingling, for example, attended three meetings with the president on credit card issues and housing. 

Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) stopped by the White House complex 11 times, according to the records. The former Senate Majority Leader and failed Health and Human Services Secretary nominee met with administration heavyweights Larry Summers and Rahm Emmanuel among others.

Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and 2004 presidential candidate, stopped by to see David Axelrod, the president's political guru, in February 2009, the records state.

Other people with recognizable names who did visit the White House include Oprah Winfrey, actor Denzel Washington and tennis star Serena Williams. 

Eisen said up to 100,000 visit the White House each month, and many of them come to tour the building.

Eisen’s post was headlined “Transparency like you’ve never seen before,” and he wrote that the disclosures marked “a major milestone in government transparency – and an important lesson in the unintended consequences of such vigorous disclosures.”

This story was updated at 6:25 p.m.

Ian Swanson contributed to this story.