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Waxman Demands E-mails From RNC

A week ago, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) asked the Republican National Committee to preserve any e-mails that might indicate that federal agencies were directed to assist Republican candidates. Now he is asking the RNC to hand over the e-mails.

In a letter sent to RNC Chairman Mike Duncan on Wednesday, Waxman requested copies of e-mails “that relate to the use of federal agencies and federal resources for partisan political purposes.”

The letter was a follow-up on the committee’s March 28 hearing, which disclosed a January briefing that was given by White House Deputy Director of Political Affairs J. Scott Jennings to senior officials at the General Services Administration. Several attendees reported that GSA head Lurita Doan suggested that the agency should look for ways to use its resources to help Republican candidates, a statement that Doan said she does not recall making.

Waxman’s committee discovered that Jennings and his assistant had circulated the briefing materials through RNC e-mail accounts rather than their White House accounts, and questioned whether White House officials — particularly Karl Rove — have conducted official business via RNC accounts instead of White House e-mail to avoid disclosure. Waxman’s investigation of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff also turned up e-mails sent by White House staffers from RNC addresses discussing Abramoff’s requests for intervention in administrative matters.

RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said that the committee has received Waxman’s letter and will respond to the Oversight Committee as appropriate. Schmitt said, “As a matter of course, the RNC provides server space and equipment to certain White House personnel in order to assist them with their political efforts,” but she could not elaborate on who has such accounts or what policies guide the use of those accounts.

Waxman specifically requested “any electronic messages sent or received by Karl Rove, J. Scott Jennings, or any other White House officials using accounts maintained by the RNC that relate to (1) the January 26, 2007, PowerPoint presentation at GSA, (2) the presentation of any similar political briefings at other federal agencies or to other federal employees, or (3) the use of federal agencies or resources to help Republican candidates.”

A Democratic staffer said the third item is meant to get at other political activity that the committee has not yet identified and thus is intentionally vague to ensure it encompasses all responsive material.

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