CREW and Obama Adminisrtation Reach Historic Legal Settlement - White House to Post Visitor Records Online

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Matt Jacob
Phone: 202.408.5565

CREW and Obama Adminisrtation Reach Historic Legal Settlement - White House to Post Visitor Records Online

WASHINGTON - Yesterday, the Obama administration and Citizens for Responsibility
and Ethics in Washington (CREW) settled four ongoing cases regarding
public access to White House visitor records. The most significant
development, however, is the commitment by the Obama administration to
affirmatively post visitor records online on an ongoing basis, bringing
a historic level of transparency to the White House.

CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan praised the White House,
stating, “The Obama administration has proven its pledge to usher in a
new era of government transparency was more than just a campaign
promise. The Bush administration fought tooth and nail to keep secret
the identities of those who visited the White House. In contrast, the
Obama administration – by putting visitor records on the White House
web site – will have the most open White House in history. Because
visitor records will now be available online, CREW dismissed its
lawsuits.” Sloan continued, “Providing public access to visitor records
is an important step in restoring transparency and accountability to
our government. CREW is proud to have been part of this historic
decision.”

Yesterday’s agreement stems from lawsuits CREW filed after the Bush
and later the Obama administration refused to provide White House
visitor records in response to CREW’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
requests. Visitor records are created by the Secret Service as part of
its statutory responsibility to protect the president, vice president,
their residences, and the White House generally.

In lawsuits for records of visits by Christian conservative leaders and lobbyist Stephen Payne,
the Bush administration argued the records were presidential records,
not agency records of the Secret Service, and therefore exempt from the
FOIA’s mandatory disclosure requirements. U.S. District Court Judge
Royce C. Lamberth disagreed, ruling twice that the records are subject
to the FOIA and not within any of the claimed exemptions. The
government appealed those decisions to the District of Columbia Circuit
Court.

After President Obama took office, CREW sought records of visits to the White House by health care and coal executives
to determine the degree of their influence on health care and energy
legislative proposals. The government initially refused to turn over
these records, but now has agreed to produce them, as well as the Bush
era records, as part of the settlement. In turn, CREW has agreed to
dismiss all the pending litigation.

Read the visitor records, the Department of Justice's settlement
letter to CREW, WH Counsel Gregory Craig's letter to Anne Weismann and
the White House's Voluntary Disclosure Policy in the Related Documents
section on the right.

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.

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