Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, wrote to Google on Friday to reiterate his concerns that White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin had inappropriate contact with the company, where he was formerly an employee.
“In April it was revealed that ... McLaughlin used his personal email account to engage in official business, including discussions on policy matters under his review with [Google],” Issa wrote.
The White House reprimanded McLaughlin in May for what it deemed were “incidental” violations of the administration’s ethics code. The White House said McLaughlin’s e-mails with Google officials had no effect on policy decisions.
Issa noted that messages sent on private e-mail accounts or through Facebook and Twitter are not captured and archived by the White House under the Presidential Records Act. He said he is concerned about reports that White House staffers may be contacting lobbyists through private accounts.
In the letter, Issa asked Google’s federal director Michael Bradshaw to provide information by July 20 on Google’s policy for retaining private e-mails, how long e-mails are retained by a Gmail account, how Google would react if subpoenaed by a law enforcement agency, and whether the White House or any federal agency has contacted the company about the retention of e-mails sent by personnel.
Issa raised concerns over McLaughlin’s ties to Google in April and called for a hearing into the matter. A hearing scheduled for June was later postponed.
“The American people have a right to expect that White House employees are working to advance the public interest and not the interests of the lobby shops who formerly employed them,” Issa said in a letter at the time. “The use of a Gmail account to communicate with lobbyists and evade transparency laws is at odds with President Obama’s promises to limit the influence of lobbyists.”