November Release of White House Visitor Records
Posted by Norm Eisen on November 25, 2009 at 01:08 PM EST
Building upon last month’s historic release of nearly 500 White House visitor records, today the White House releases more than 1,600 records of visits to the White House in response to another month’s worth of requests. You can view all the records in a searchable database in our Disclosures section.
We announced earlier that in December the White House would -- for the first time in history -- begin posting all White House visitor records under the terms of our new voluntary disclosure policy. As part of that initiative, we also offered to look back at the records created before the announcement of the policy and answer specific requests for visitor records created earlier in the year.
Today’s production of records is in response to over 300 requests from the public during the month of October. Those requests have yielded over 1,600 responsive records. Consistent with our earlier announcement that we will only release records that are 90 days or older, this group of records covers the time period between January 20, 2009 to August 31, 2009. All of these have been added to the online database of published visitor records in an accessible, searchable format for anyone to browse or download.
Today’s release advances the President’s historic commitment to increasing government transparency and openness. This Administration’s concrete commitments to openness include putting up more government information than ever before on data.gov and recovery.gov, reforming the government’s FOIA processes, providing on-line access to White House staff financial reports and salaries, adopting a tough new state secrets policy, reversing an executive order that previously limited access to presidential records, and webcasting White House meetings and conferences. The release also compliments our new lobbying rules, which in addition to closing the revolving door for lobbyists who work in government have also emphasized expanding disclosure of lobbyist contacts with the government.
Several of the most frequent White House visitors in today's release are, not surprisingly, Administration officials who come to the White House as part of their daily work. For example, Tom Perrelli and Spencer Overton - each an appointed official in the Administration - have visited the White House many times.
Finally, as we noted last month, sometimes rather than providing clear information transparency can have confusing or amusing results. With an average of 100,000 White House access records created each month, many White House Visitors share the same name as celebrities. In October, requests were submitted for the names of some notable figures (for example Michael Jordan and Michael Moore). The famous individuals with those names never actually came to the White House, but we have included the individuals that did visit and share those names.
Norm Eisen is Special Counsel to the President for ethics and government reform