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Press Release Published: May 27, 2014

Issa Presses White House on Office of Political Affairs Documents, Claims Contradicted by Office of Special Counsel

Indicates that continued withholding may result in use of compulsory process

WASHINGTON – Today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., pressed the White House on the decision to revive the Office of Political Affairs (OPA) three years after the office was shut down just prior to the release of an Office of Special Counsel report calling OPA’s existence into question and citing Hatch Act violations.

“The American people have a right to know if their tax dollars are being spent to support congressional campaigns during the 2014 midterm elections in violation of federal law,” Issa writes in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. “This Committee has a bipartisan history of investigating the illegal use of taxpayer money to influence congressional elections.   Former Chairman Henry Waxman invested substantial Committee time and effort to investigate the use of official resources at the behest of the White House for political purposes. . . . Chairman Waxman called for the elimination of the office.”

The White House reopened the OPA in January 2014, marketing it as a “one-stop shop for all things midterms,” according to news reports. In response to a March 18, 2014 letter from the Committee, White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler insisted that the White House established the OPA with communication and guidance from the Office of Special Counsel. However, Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner told the Committee in writing that the White House did not consult with the OSC and had not been in contact with them as of February 2014.

The March 18th letter requested communications and documents related to the reinstating of the OPA, but the White House failed to comply by the April 1st deadline. “If the White House continues to withhold documents and information related to the reopening of the White House political office, I will have no alternative but to consider the use of compulsory process to obtain the requested documents,” Issa concludes.

You can read today’s letter to Denis McDonough here.

You can read the February 10th letter to Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner here

You can read Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner’s response to the Committee here.

You can read the March 18th letter to Denis McDonough here.