House Oversight Chairman Edolphus Towns, New York Democrat, is postponing a hearing poised to be a showdown between the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, and the White House over e-mail and ethics issues.
Towns’s spokesman, Adam Hodge, said the hearing was postponed because of a “scheduling conflict.” Asked to describe the conflict, Hodge demurred. “I haven’t even heard” what the conflict is, Hodge said, “there’s really nothing going on.”
Issa is vowing to keep to his plans to ask White House officials “pointed questions” about a mounting number of technology-related ethics and legal problems facing an administration that promised to be the most transparent in history and end “politics as usual” in Washington.
“We look forward to the hearing being rescheduled and actually taking place since we have a growing list of serious questions the White House has refused to answer on its use of technology, its compliance with the law and its unfulfilled transparency promises,” Issa spokesman Seamus Kraft said.
The hearing in question had been scheduled for June 24 to discuss “federal agency use of Web 2.0 technologies, such as open data, sharable content, user-centered design and social networking/media,” and “the privacy and security issues that agencies face in using Web 2.0 applications.”
Invited witnesses included Mary Beth Noveck, a key Obama aide in the same office as Andrew McLaughlin, the former Google lobbyist turned administration official whose e-mails, made public under a Freedom of Information Act request by Consumer Watchdog, revealed he was e-mailing his prior employer on official business with a personal account, in violation of the president’s ethics pledge and federal law.
The White House officially reprimanded McLaughlin in May following an internal investigation.
At the time, a spokesman said the lapses were isolated incidents, but a Daily Caller investigation revealed a cavalier attitude in the White House towards safeguards designed to prevent abuses of the Presidential Records Act and other laws.
Noveck is deputy chief technology officer for the Open Government division of the Office of Science and Technology Policy OSTP. McLaughlin is deputy for the entire OSTP office.
Other invited witnesses include Gregory Wilshusen, director of information security issues at the Government Accountability Office and David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States, National Archives and Records Administration.