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April 4, 2007

Waxman Requests Illegal White House E-Mails Sent Through Republican Party

-- by Dave Johnson

There is a law that says all communications by White House employees must be preserved. Trying to dodge around that law, many White House employees used alternate e-mail addresses for official correspondence. Many of these e-mails were handled by the Republican Party's e-mail servers.

Now that this has come out, the Congress is requesting to see those e-mails - which are the property of the public. I've included the entire letter below, and you can also read the request at Speaker Pelosi's blog, The Gavel: Waxman Requests Emails:

April 4, 2007

Mike Duncan
Chairman
Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

Dear Mr. Duncan:

I am writing to request e-mail communications stored on Republican National Committee servers that relate to the use of federal agencies and federal resources for partisan political purposes.

Last week, the Committee held a hearing into allegations of misconduct at the General Services Administration. One of the issues examined at the hearing involved a partisan political presentation that White House Deputy Director of Political Affairs, J. Scott Jennings, made to the GSA Administrator, Lurita A. Doan, and approximately 40 GSA appointees in the GSA headquarters building on January 26, 2007. At this event, Mr. Jennings presented a 28-page PowerPoint briefing that reviewed the 2006 election results and identified the Republican party’s top electoral targets in upcoming federal and state elections. Following the presentation, Ms. Doan asked her staff to consider how GSA resources could be used to help “our candidates” in the next election.

Serious questions were raised at the hearing about the legality and propriety of Mr. Jennings’s presentation and the discussion that followed it. In addition, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service issued a report finding that the presentation itself and Ms. Doan’s comments could be violations of the federal Hatch Act.[1] According to a White House spokesperson, however: “This is regular communication from the White House to political appointees throughout the administration.”[2]

In communicating with GSA about the presentation, Mr. Jennings and his assistant used “gwb43.com” e-mail accounts maintained by the RNC rather than their official White House e-mail accounts. In their e-mails, they described the presentation as a “close hold” and said that “we’re not supposed to be emailing it around.”[3]

To assist the Committee in its investigation of these issues, I request that you provide any electronic messages sent or received by Karl Rove, J. Scott Jennings, or any other White House officials using accounts maintained by the RNC that relate to (1) the January 26, 2007, PowerPoint presentation at GSA, (2) the presentation of any similar political briefings at other federal agencies or to other federal employees, or (3) the use of federal agencies or resources to help Republican candidates.

The Committee requests that you produce these documents on or before April 18, 2007.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee in the House of Representatives and has broad oversight jurisdiction as set forth in House Rule X. An attachment to this letter provides additional information about how to respond to the Committee’s request.

If you have any questions regarding this request, please contact David Rapallo or Anna Laitin with the Committee staff at (202) 225-5420.

Sincerely,

Henry A. Waxman
Chairman

Enclosure

cc: Tom Davis
Ranking Minority Member

——————————————————————————–

[1] Memorandum from Congressional Research Service to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Meetings, Conferences as “Political Activities” in a Federal Office, and “Hatch Act” Considerations (Mar. 26, 2007) (online at www.oversight.house.gov/ Documents/20070328154603-20874.pdf).

[2] Panel Asks Rove for Information on ’08 Election Presentation, Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2007).

[3] Email from Jocelyn Webster to Tessa Truesdale (Jan. 19, 2007) (W-02-0310).

Posted by Dave Johnson at April 4, 2007 9:51 AM

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