President Obama’s aides have violated a transparency law by conducting official business on their personal email accounts and meeting lobbyists at private locations, Republican officials said today.
“[These emails] show the Obama Administration has not only found loopholes in their own self-imposed transparency rules, they’re also failing to follow the law under the Presidential Records Act,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on a conference call with reporters. “If you are using your personal email account to forward to yourself to and from the White House to make multi-billion dollar deals with lobbyists using tax payer money, don’t you think something smells a little funny here?” He added that “we need to have a full-scale investigation so that we can in fact determine whether or not . . . we have a crime.”
Priebus was referring to an email that current Obama campaign manager Jim Messina wrote to a pharmaceutical lobbyist when he was working in the White House during the Obamacare negotiations. “I will roll [P]elosi to get the 4 billion,” Messina wrote from his personal email. “As you may have heard I am literally rolling over the house. But there just isn’t 8-10 billion.”
House Oversight Subcommittee chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., said that he would not describe such email exchanges as illegal until the White House provided him with more documents pertaining the issue. He did emphasize an email from a White House official who arranged to meet a lobbyist at the nearby Caribou Coffee in order to avoid his name appearing on the White House visitor logs.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney laughed off questions about the meetings today. “I don’t have anything on that particular email or that particular meeting,” Carney told reporters during today’s press gaggle. “I have had meetings with you guys off campus all the time, and it’s true that I don’t want people to know that I meet with you because I try to keep better company. I’m joking.”