The White House has surrendered in its battle against public access to visitor logs for several Executive Branch agencies according to an article on The Hill today.
The Oval Office settled with a number of groups that had gone to court to obtain access to the visitor logs to determine who exactly had been lobbying the administration to bend its policies in their direction.
The settlement resulted in the release today of the records of the February 2018 visitors to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Center for Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Visitor logs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy will be available shortly as well.
One of the groups who sued the administration for access to the information, Public Citizen, praised the move but questioned whether the agencies involved had redacted any of the records without proper reasons. Hundreds of entries were redacted from the OMB logs, with records also deleted from the CEQ and OSTP logs as well.
“The public now can see who is visiting these four agencies, as they should have been able to see all along,” Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said. “Now we’ll at least have a window into the corporate and ideological lobbyists who are driving Trump administration policy.”
While Public Citizen and the other groups that joined the suit now have access to the records for these executive branch agencies, the Oval Office itself and the entire Office of the President are exempt from public records laws.
The release of the info has already revealed the continuing influence of lobbyists publicly derided by President Trump as “the swamp,” but still oozing their way through the back doors of the White House to influence which of their pet regulatory rollbacks gets implemented first.
According to The Hill, “the logs included visits to OMB by Myron Ebell and Marlo Lewis from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation, Jim Tozzi from the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness, Lee Janger of the Alliance for Vehicle Efficiency, Laurie Holmes of the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association and Hudson Hollister, who founded the Data Coalition.”
While the logs released includes the names of visitors to the agencies involved, their titles and the names of the companies that the visitors represent are not disclosed, so diligent reporters will surely be pouring over the data to see what other swamp dwellers have been slithering into the White House to push their agendas.
Unfortunately, few of the visitors are likely to be advocates for the general public rather than for specific special interests.
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