Washington – Today, Open The Government led a coalition, including 13 transparency and ethics organizations, and Walter Michael Shaub Jr., the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, in urging the White House to reverse its decision not to release visitor logs for virtual visits. In a letter to legal counsel Dana Remus, the coalition commended the Biden administration’s commitment to resuming the release of White House visitor logs, one of the recommendations in Accountability 2021, but emphasized the release of virtual visitor logs is just as critical to protecting the public’s right to meaningful disclosures about the individuals and organizations influencing the executive branch.
The organizations wrote: “As you know, government business does not stop during a pandemic, and the principle of transparency becomes more, not less, important during times of national crisis. The public must have a clear picture of the forces influencing White House policy, and White House meetings and visitors are a necessary part of that picture. We ask that the administration change course and immediately begin preparing virtual visitor logs for public release.”
In addition to releasing all visitor logs – in-person or virtual – in a searchable, sortable, downloadable database that outlines names, affiliation, and description of visits, the letter urged the White House to make public answers to pertinent questions about its plans to manage records of virtual meetings under the Presidential Records Act. It also included a request to meet to discuss other presidential records-related recommendations mapped out in Accountability 2021 to restore ethics, transparency, and accountability in the federal government.
The letter is available here.