Federal Politics

Published — May 3, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

IMPACT: House GOP criticizes White House visitor logs

Introduction

House Republicans criticized the Obama administration for failing to disclose the names of thousands of visitors to the White House and suggested Obama staff met with lobbyists in nearby coffee shops to avoid listing their names in the official records system.

Rep. Cliff Stearns, chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations, kicked off often contentious and partisan testimony Tuesday by citing Obama’s pledge that his administration would be the “most open and transparent in history.”

“The American people were made a lot of promises that quite frankly do not seem to have been kept,” Stearns, R-Fla., said.

The two-hour hearing follows an iWatch News investigation last month which uncovered large gaps and missing information in the White House visitor logs, despite the administration’s claims that the searchable database contains “over 1,000,000 records of everyone who’s come through the doors of the White House.”

Stearns cited the iWatch News findings, noting that only 1 percent of 500,000 White House visitors from the first eight months of the Obama administration have been released, that many entries don’t reflect who actually took part in meetings, and that thousands of visitor names, including numerous lobbyists, are “simply missing from the logs.”

Stearns rebuked the White House for failing to send anyone to testify at the hearing. “This failure to send any witness to a hearing about White House transparency while depriving the public of the administration’s perspective, is revealing in its own way about the administration’s true attitudes,” Stearns said.

Democrats defended the administration. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the hearing was “not about open government, it’s about politics.” He said Republicans had only given the White House six days to respond to the request for testimony, the minimum required.

Open government advocates testified as well.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said in his testimony that the Obama administration mirrors the Bush administration in contending that the records of people visiting the White House are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

“So while the Obama administration attempts to take the ‘high ground’ in the debate by releasing a select number of visitors logs, it shields tens of thousands of other records that continue to be withheld in defiance of the FOIA law. Why release some and not all?” he asked.

But Anne L. Weismann, of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the visitors logs were created by the Secret Service to protect the president, vice president and their families—and not meant to be a full record of who entered the White House and the nature of their business.

“Some complain the visitor logs lack critical information, such as who the visitor is meeting with, and that requests for clearance were made by low level staff in order to conceal the true nature of the visit. These criticisms reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of these logs and the purpose that they serve,” she said.

Several Republicans also said they were alarmed to hear from the media that some Obama officials have conducted meetings at coffee shops near the White House in order to avoid keeping a record of the visits. Democrats suggested that there’s little solid evidence of that happening.

While nobody from the White House appeared at the hearing, Obama administration officials have defended their disclosure policies. Press Secretary Jay Carney has said the president “made extraordinary efforts to demonstrate the transparency that he thinks is vitally important” even as he conceded the visitor logs are incomplete.

The iWatch News investigation found that the logs are missing visitors including lobbyists, government employees, campaign donors, policy experts, friends of the first family, and even celebrities like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. The data analysis also showed that the logs routinely omit or cloud key details about the identity of visitors, who they met with, the nature of the visit, and includes the names of people cleared to visit the White House, but who never showed up.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.