(CNN) – Republicans on Wednesday opened another line of attack against President Barack Obama and his White House, reviving doubts they have cast on the administration's transparency.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus alleged on a Wednesday conference call organized for reporters that the Obama Administration was "failing follow the law under the Presidential Records Act."
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Priebus and Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Republican who chairs the oversight subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, based their claims on a report published Tuesday by Stearns and other Republicans on his committee which juxtaposes news reports with White House statements on transparency. They charged the Obama Administration - including Obama's campaign manager, who was previously a top White House official - was skirting the records preservation law and creatively reneging on their own transparency pledges.
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday suggested there was little behind the Republicans' charge in the report and conference call that former top White House official Jim Messina "used his personal email account on several occasions to conduct official business," which the report characterized as a "potential failure to abide by the Presidential Records Act."
"Mr. Messina had a longstanding personal email account at which he got traffic," he told reporters traveling with the president. "In an effort to comply with all the regulations pertaining to emails, he would forward emails to his White House account, copy his White House account so that those emails would be part of the presidential record."
Priebus saw the emails differently, saying on a conference call the RNC organized for reporters that the "stunning revelations... show the Obama Administration has not only found loopholes in their own self-imposed transparency rules, they're also failing to follow the law under the Presidential Records Act."
President George W. Bush's administration was confronted with questions about emails sent by top White House officials on a private, unofficial domain.
Pressed by a reporter about whether similarities existed between his allegations and those regarding the Bush Administration, Priebus said, "look, I'm not here to relitigate any of those old fights that took place."
Perhaps one of the juciest bites cites a 2010 New York Times report that some lobbyists have met with White House officials "hundreds of times over the last 18 months with prominent K Street lobbyists" at a coffee shop nearby the White House "which is not subject to disclosure on the visitors' log that the White House releases as part of its pledge to be the 'most transparent presidential administration in history.' "
"They [the Obama administration] have been using the Caribou Coffee shop across the street from the White House as an executive branch annex to hold secretive meetings with lobbyists and political cronies," Priebus said on his conference call.
"So we have no way of knowing what insider deals they're cutting with lobbyists with taxpayer money," he charged.
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Wednesday that he had no details to share "on this specific issue."
On the call, Stearns said, "I think it's obvious that the administration is really talking lofty rhetoric but the bottom line is they're concealing."
these repub have passed the thresh hold of hyprocricy, they've got the most secretive presidential candidate in American history, a candidate who buys his government hard drives so he wouldn't be implecated, destroy Olympic financial data, wont release his tax returns, this is the personal resume the people who are suppose to hire him needs. who ever apply for a job without a resume, let alone the most powerful job on the planet. the people can't even give him a back ground check. next time I go get a job I will tell them that I dont need a resume, nor a back ground check, because the candidate for president, who is suppose to set the example for our country as a potential leader, said it wasn't necessary and it will descriminate against him if he did.
Let's see – Romney wont release his tax records, when he left office of governor of MA he took the unprecedented step of destroying his files, he has secret closed door meetings with his wealthy donors, he wont talk about his time with Bain, and he bars the press from certain campaign events.
But it is Obama that has the transparency problem?
By all means, push the Obama transperancy issue. And while we're talking about transperancy, we can also talk about Mitt's inability to answer questions in a meaningful way, Mitt's failure to provide follow-up answers to the press on numerous issues despite his promises to do so, and Mitt's tax returns - or lack thereof.
And while they're at it, they should also keep running the Romney ad that explains how the auto bailout was a bad thing. I'd actually contribute to his campaign if they just promised to run that ad in every state from now till the election.
Secretive meetings in a coffee shop across the street from the white house? Sounds like a bad episode of CSI. All's I can do is shake my head in disbelief.
Mr. Priebus, this ploy to distract voters from the real transparency issue in this campaign won't work. The elephant in the room is your candidate's tax returns. Until he reveals them, there is a shroud of secrecy and mistrust that just won't go away no matter how hard you try. He should have released them months ago when his primary rivals called for them but better late than never.