Issa Expands Probe into White House Transparency

California Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, swiftly assumed chairmanship of the committee - and he's made it clear that he won't be shy about investigating the Obama administration. (Or, for that matter, the George W. Bush administration.) So far, he's targeted stimulus spending, financial bailouts, and health care reform. But Issa denies charges that his goal is to bring down President Obama. "My job is not to bring down the president. My job is to make the president a success," he said on November 2, according to Politico.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
California Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Update: 12:15 p.m. ET

Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a request on Tuesday for copies of e-mail correspondences between, and interviews with, top White House officials, the Associated Press reports.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano obtained by the Post, Issa, a California Republican, complained of an "inconsistent" finding in response to his first major White House request, and deemed it insufficient. The inquiry addressed the transparency of the Obama administration, and the process and speed with which it responded to requests for data under the Freedom of Information Act.

Issa initially interviewed Chief Privacy Officer of the Department of Homeland Security Mary Ellen Callahan in September, regarding a slew of emails obtained by the Associated Press that, according to the AP report, indicated the DHS was turning sensitive Freedom of Information Act requests over to top political advisers for"highly unusual scrutiny."

"[Callahan] assured the staff that political appointees were not inappropriately interfering with the FOIA process," Issa wrote in his letter to Napolitano. "In reliance on these statements, I asked my staff to put our inquiry on hold temporarily."

Issa said he recently obtained information that contradicted that assurance, however, and has pledged to continue the investigation.

"During the week of January 10, 2011, my staff obtained material that called into question the statements supplied by the department during the September briefing [with Callahan]," Issa wrote in his letter. "The discrepancies between Ms. Callahan's statements during that briefing and what the documents show required committee staff to spend much more time and resources uncovering the truth than would have been otherwise necessary."

Issa subsequently requested records from 180 agencies regarding their responses to Freedom of Information Act appeals, and asked for explanations for delays in certain requests, the Hill reports. He also requested interviews with a number of political appointees.

Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Nelson Peacock wrote in a letter to Issa last week that the agency's "practices are fully consistent with the language and spirit of the Freedom of Information Act."

Amy Kudwa, a Homeland Security Department spokeswoman, told the Washington Post on Tuesday that the department will continue to cooperate with Issa's demands.