July 22, 2009 / 10:04 PM / in 10 years

White House logs sought for health execs' visits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A nonprofit advocacy group filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to obtain visitor records of White House meetings with the top executives of Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson, UnitedHealth Group Inc and other U.S. healthcare companies.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said it went to court after the U.S. Secret Service refused to turn over visitor logs and records in response to the group’s request under the Freedom of Information law.

The documents are sought “to inform the public about the possible influences to which the administration may have been subject in formulating its health care policy in light of closed-door talks U.S. President Obama reportedly has been having with industry executives,” the lawsuit said.

The case began on June 22, when the group sent a letter to the Secret Service seeking visitor logs for leading health care industry executives at the White House or the vice president’s home from January 21, 2009 to the present.

The advocacy group’s lawsuit seeks records about White House visits by the chief executives of Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, UnitedHealth, Fresenium Medical Care AG, Medtronic Inc, WellPoint Inc, Health Net Inc, Baxter International Inc and Merck. Also named in the request were the heads of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and of America’s Health Insurance Plans.

The Secret Service maintains a log of visitors to the White House.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 09-01356.

Reporting by Julie Vorman; Editing by Richard Chang

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