Private Email and White House Business

Considering that Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina is attacking Mitt Romney about  “transparency” issues, he probably should have been more careful about following disclosure rules while serving as White House deputy chief of staff. Politico reports that Messina appears to have used a private email address for government-related conversations with health care lobbyists:

A House Energy and Commerce Committee report out Tuesday is stocked with emails sent from private addresses and meetings scheduled away from the building to avoid official record. Among these are several sent to a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist by Messina, President Barack Obama’s then-deputy White House chief of staff, making promises about language for the health care reforms despite the resistance of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the measure.

White House officials are required to use government emails when conducting government business, in order to preserve the electronic records. Private email addresses are far less transparent because messages can be deleted. As Politico notes, Messina’s use of private email could be a violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1978. The Bush White House came under fire for a similar violation in 2007.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee (which released the Messina emails) are well within their right to raise alarms about this. It’s hard to see how the Obama campaign can continue to attack Romney on “transparency” if it turns out their campaign manager skirted electronic transparency laws while serving in the White House.