CREW: White House Violated Presidential Records Act

March 16, 2007

CREW: White House Violated Presidential Records Act
CitizensForEthics.org
March 15, 2007

Washington, DC – 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, SJennings@gwb43.com, 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.

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At the Washington Post, Dan Froomkin noted that:

Similarly, in spite of the embarrassing revelations contained in the e-mails turned over by the Justice Department to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, the general rule at the White House is that if it’s really sensitive, don’t put it in writing — certainly not in an e-mail.

That stuff gets archived.

The president himself, for instance, never uses e-mail at all.

And it now turns out that some of his aides sometimes avoid using their official White House e-mail accounts — the ones that get automatically archived.

As I wrote in yesterday’s column, Tuesday’s document dump — which initiated from the Justice Department, not the White House — includes e-mails from J. Scott Jennings, Karl Rove’s deputy at the White House, coming from an e-mail address at gwb43.com. That’s a domain owned by the Republican National Committee.

Continued here.

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Washington Post: House Passes Open-Government Bills

March 16, 2007

House Passes Open-Government Bills
Elizabeth Williamson and Jonathan Weisman
The Washington Post
March 15, 2007

In a bipartisan confrontation with the White House over executive branch secrecy, the House ignored a stern veto threat and overwhelmingly passed a package of open-government bills yesterday that would roll back administration efforts to shield its workings from public view.

Even top Republicans supported three bills that would streamline access to records in presidential libraries, expand safeguards for government whistle-blowers, and strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which guides public requests for government documents. All were approved with veto-proof majorities.

Continued here.


William K. McElvaney’s Address to Mission Council

March 16, 2007

ADDRESS TO MISSION COUNCIL, South Central Jurisdiction
March 14, 2007
William K. McElvaney
Professor Emeritus
Perkins School of Theology, SMU

Most United Methodists and non-Methodists would agree that historically SMU has been a “mainstream” Methodist university without commitment to or entanglement with partisan politics beyond its control. Indeed, the high regard in which SMU is held in most places is partly due to its freedom from ideological connections and obligations.

Make no mistake . . . if the Bush policy institute were to come to SMU as now designed, that is, reporting only to the Bush Foundation, it would be unprecedented not only in SMU’s history but also in American higher education. That’s why the decision before you is one of the most far-reaching in the history of SMU. As such it would constitute a major makeover of SMU’s previously unaligned educational history and practice.

Continued here.


Dallas Morning News: House votes to reverse Bush’s sealed-records order

March 16, 2007

House votes to reverse Bush’s sealed-records order
Todd J. Gillman and Sudeep Reddy
The Dallas Morning News
March 15, 2007

WASHINGTON – Defying a veto threat, the House dealt President Bush an overwhelming rebuke Wednesday by voting to overturn a five-year-old executive order that lets ex-presidents – and their widows and children – seal White House records for as long as they want, for any reason.

The House also voted to force Mr. Bush and future presidents to identify donors to the libraries built to house their papers and guard their legacies.

Both measures could dramatically affect the complex that Mr. Bush is negotiating to build at Southern Methodist University – affecting researchers’ access to his papers and complicating plans to raise money for the archive, museum and policy institute.

Continued here.


UMC leaders OK Bush library plan

March 16, 2007

UMC leaders OK Bush library plan
Holly K. Hacker
The Dallas Morning News
March 15, 2007

Regional leaders of the United Methodist Church gave Southern Methodist University permission Wednesday to lease part of campus for the Bush library, in a move that helps SMU secure its chances of officially landing the library complex.

The Mission Council of the UMC’s South Central Jurisdiction voted 10-4 in favor of the plan, with one abstention, at a special meeting held near Love Field that drew a mix of opponents and supporters of the Bush library and a related policy institute. SMU’s bylaws require that it get church permission to lease or sell any campus land.

For the first time, SMU officials described the overall boundaries for where the library would be located: SMU Boulevard to the north, Central Expressway to the east, Mockingbird Lane to the south and Airline Road and Dublin Street to the west.

Continued here.


High stakes for UP park vote

March 16, 2007

High stakes for UP park vote
Wendy Hundley
The Dallas Morning News
March 14, 2007

On May 12, University Park residents will decide whether to sell a tiny park that could have big consequences for the city, while voters in Richardson and Addison will elect City Council members.

Four seats on the Richardson school board will be on the ballot. Highland Park ISD is expected to cancel its election for lack of contested races.

University Park voters will be occupied with a single issue. Although Potomac Park occupies only a sliver of town real estate, residents will decide whether it should be sold to Southern Methodist University. The land could be used as part of the Bush presidential library if SMU officially lands the facility.

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