House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), today, after a briefing by White House staff on political operations, informed White House Counsel Neil Eggleston that David Simas, the Director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach (OPSO), must still appear to testify at tomorrow for a hearing examining the scope of White House political activities and White House efforts to comply with the Hatch Act:
“The Clinton White House, Bush White House, and other administrations before them have all faced congressional oversight of political activity supported by taxpayer funds,” wrote Issa. “Under this Administration, like previous Administrations, members of President Obama’s cabinet have committed violations of the Hatch Act, which draws a line between campaign and official business.”
“The Committee has outstanding questions for Mr. Simas, who did not take part in the briefing, and it is necessary for him to appear at tomorrow’s hearing. Mr. Simas is still under subpoena and is expected to appear at tomorrow’s hearing. I believe his on-the-record testimony will provide valuable insight into White House efforts to ensure appropriate use of taxpayer funds.”
The letter to Eggleston notes that White House staff at today’s briefing declined a request to discuss compliance with the Committee’s document requests or to even describe the process and identify relevant officials involved in the decision to reopen the White House political office. While briefers took issue with some media characterizations of the office, they were unable to say whether or not the White House pursued corrections.