CREW Asks for House Investigation into White House Violations of Presidential Records Act

U.S. Attorney Firings and Abramoff-Related Emails Sent from RNC and Other

Outside Addresses Circumvent Mandatory Record-Keeping System

Mar 15, 2007, 01:00 ET from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

    WASHINGTON, March 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In light of e-mails
 released by the House Judiciary Committee this week in response to the on-
 going U.S. Attorney firing scandal, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics
 in Washington (CREW) sent a letter today to Chairman of the Committee on
 Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), asking for an
 investigation into whether the White House has violated its mandatory
 record- keeping obligation under the Presidential Records Act (PRA).
     One email, sent to Justice Department Chief of Staff D. Kyle Sampson
 from J. Scott Jennings, White House Deputy Political Director, uses an
 email account,, on a server owned by the Republican
 National Committee. This raises serious questions about whether the White
 House was trying to deliberately evade its responsibilities under the PRA,
 which directs the president to take all necessary steps to maintain
 presidential records to provide a full accounting of all activities during
 his tenure.
     A number of other emails from Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove's former
 assistant Susan Ralston to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff document Ms.
 Ralston's use of three outside domains: (used for the
 headquarters of the Republican National Committee), and In many of these emails Ms. Ralston is communicating inside White
 House information to Mr. Abramoff in response to Mr. Abramoff's efforts to
 broker deals for his clients and place specified individuals in positions
 within the administration.
     CREW has learned that to fulfill its statutory obligations under the
 PRA, the White House email system automatically copies all messages created
 by staff and sends them to the White House Office of Records Management for
 archiving. It appears that the White House deliberately bypassed the
 automatic archiving function of its own email system that was designed to
 ensure compliance with the PRA.
     CREW currently is involved in several lawsuits challenging other
 improper and illegal record keeping practices of the Bush administration.
 In this matter, CREW cannot bring a lawsuit challenging the White House on
 its compliance with the PRA because of a legal precedent that relies on
 presidents to honor the mandatory record-keeping practices, with no
 judicial review.
     Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today, "Now that we
 know that at least two White House officials have circumvented the law by
 using alternate email systems to discuss the U.S. Attorney firings and Jack
 Abramoff, we are asking Chairman Waxman to investigate whether the White
 House has continually violated its mandatory record-keeping obligation
 under the Presidential Records Act. This administration continues to
 disregard the law in favor of agenda-driven politics."
     CREW's letter to Rep. Waxman is available at CREW's website.
     Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-
 profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials
 accountable for their actions.
     For more information, please visit or
 contact Naomi Seligman Steiner at

SOURCE Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington