White House contests subpoena of top Obama political aide

WASHINGTON Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:38pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a visit to Austin, Texas July 10, 2014.   REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a visit to Austin, Texas July 10, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House asked the Republican chairman of a congressional committee on Monday to lift a subpoena against President Barack Obama's political adviser, who has been called to testify on Wednesday about his office's operations.

Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform Committee, last week subpoenaed Obama political adviser David Simas to testify about how his office complies with the Hatch Act, a law that forbids most federal government employees from engaging in partisan political activity.

Simas is director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. Recent presidents, both Democratic and Republican, have all had at least one top political adviser in a position similar to that of Simas.

The subpoena is "precipitate and surprising in light of our clear willingness to work with you to meet your informational needs," White House counsel Neil Eggleston wrote in a letter to Issa on Monday.

Eggleston asked Issa to lift the subpoena. The letter did not say whether Simas would be allowed to testify if forced. Aides are hoping a briefing that White House legal staff are to provide to Issa on Tuesday will answer any remaining questions he might have.

"While I am hopeful that we can work together constructively to address your stated interests, your subpoena is not helpful to these efforts," Eggleston wrote.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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Comments (15)
OSU_Aero_Eng wrote:
Side note: what’s going on with Reuters comment system today? I’m seeing all kinds of posts on numerous peoples’ profiles that are several hours old and not showing up in the comment sections.

Jul 14, 2014 7:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JamesChirico wrote:
It will be argued by the GOP, the new office engaged in actions prohibited by Section 7323-7324 of the Hatch Act. Issuance of penalties is done by the Merit board under the Hatch Act would mean Simas is barred for up to 5 years from a federal job or fined is guilty. There are 2 levels of activities forbid under the act with people like armed forces, intelligence under stricter guidelines. The president has stood on the sidelines too much according to some in the Dem Party. Creating this office sent a top campaign aide of his to coordinate policy, statements, and things like White House visits. Unclear if the new office director would fall under stricter or looser guidelines.

Jul 14, 2014 9:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
carnivalchaos wrote:
OSU_Aero_Eng: I think someone’s reporting every post that doesn’t reflect conservative ideology and Reuters is removing a lot of them. In one day I went from having 16 reported posts removed to 33. And I didn’t post 17 posts in one day. Someone went to my history and reported every post. They’ll probably succeed in having me banned from posting. They’ve done it before.

Jul 14, 2014 11:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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