Stonewalling at the House Oversight Information Policy Subcommittee

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At Thursday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Policy hearing the ranking member on the subcommittee, North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, lambasted committee Democrats for preventing a White House witness from testifying about the White House’s relationship with Google and the security issues involved with new communications technologies.

“This could be a very open hearing about the new technology that the nation is experiencing and certainly this White House and government is experiencing as well,” McHenry said. “It is apparent that the majority in this Congress does not want to ask even a White House witness to be a part of it. In fact they are trying to protect one White House witness from even answering questions about record keeping even though we have seen in press reports that they are doing things that are not in keeping with Presidential Records and Federal Records Laws, before you even mention the President’s ethics pledge.”

McHenry requested a vote to subpoena a White House official to answer questions about the administration’s potential violation of the Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act by using personal e-mail accounts to electronically correspond with lobbyists.

Democrats on the subcommittee — including Chairman Lacy Clay of Missouri, Rep. Danny Davis of Illinois, Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, Rep. Steve Driehaus of Ohio, and DC Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton — voted to prevent the testimony of a White House official. The subpoena request was thus defeated by a vote of 4-5.

Beth Simone Noveck of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy was the official initially scheduled to testify. The office of California Rep. Darrell Issa, who is the ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, alleges in a press release issued Thursday that, “The hearing was postponed and the White House official subsequently dropped after Democrats learned that Republicans intended to raise questions about White House violations of the Presidential Records Act involving communications with lobbyists.”

Thursday evening, Issa praised McHenry for his attempt to keep the Democrats in check.

“Ranking Member McHenry was right to hold the majority accountable for trying to give the Obama administration a free pass on violations of record keeping laws as a result of communicating with lobbyists through personal e-mails,” Issa said in a statement to the press.

“Just two years ago, Democrats expressed outrage about Presidential Records Act violations under the Bush Administration while saying they were serious about efforts to address problems. Under the Obama Administration, they now appear more than willing to offer the Obama White House a free pass on violations,” Issa said.

Neither the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee nor Subcommittee Chairman Clay responded to requests for comment from The Daily Caller by time of publication.

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