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.