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RNC chair assails WH transparency, punts on Romney's own standards


Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus demanded a "full-scale investigation" into the Obama administration's record-keeping, but punted on the question of whether Mitt Romney, as president, should maintain some of the same disclosure policies put into place by President Obama.

Priebus assailed the Obama White House for details included in a report authored by Republicans on Capitol Hill, which accused the administration of failing to live up to the standards of transparency set for itself, and accused Jim Messina -- the president's campaign manager -- of trying to avoid disclosure laws.

"It's time for a full-scale investigation ... The Obama White House is actively deceiving the American people, and they're doing it over a Caribou latte," Priebus said on a conference call with reporters, referencing an alleged informal policy of White House officials to meet at a nearby Caribou Coffee in order to avoid having those liaisons appear on White House visitor records.

Those visitor records are released voluntarily as part of the standards put in place by President Obama to increase transparency.

But Priebus declined to say whether Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, would abide by the same standards if he were elected.

"As far as whether or not the policies of transparency should continue ... I'm going to let Gov. Romney set the standards for his White House when he's there," the RNC chairman said.

The GOP has seized upon the new report, assembled by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as evidence that Obama hasn't lived up to its own standards of transparency. Republicans pointed to the report, along with administration stonewalling of inquiries into the administration's dealings with Solyndra or LightSquared, as evidence of administration hypocrisy.

Priebus even went so far as to suggest there might have been criminal activity, an allegation he acknowledged could not be substantiated absent the release of more details.

"Certainly there is smoke and a smoldering fire here, and my suspicion is that there would be a lot more uncovered once there is a full-scale investigation," he said.

As to how that investigation might proceed, Priebus was more vague. He seemed to indicate that a House committee could take charge on such an investigation, though their inquiry would inevitably be marked by partisanship since Republicans control the House.