White House Visitors Logs: Who Came To See President Obama?

November 25, 2009 8:13 a.m.

The White House just posted more than 1,600 records of visitors who came through the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this year. The release includes the names of people who visited President Obama and other top officials.

Check out the names here, and TPMDC will update readers as we go through the names.

As we reported earlier, the White House is releasing the names from before Sept. 15 as part of its new transparency policy.

It’s an earlier release than expected due to the holiday.

They are the first administration in history to release the names of people who have visited the White House. Read through our coverage of the release here. The spreadsheet is more detailed than the last one, offering a description of the meeting.Norm Eisen, special counsel to Obama on ethics, detailed the release in a blog post and said there are some “confusing or amusing results” since some actual visitors share names with famous people who were not visitors.

Eisen writes:

Several of the most frequent White House visitors in today’s release are, not surprisingly, Administration officials who come to the White House as part of their daily work. For example, Tom Perrelli and Spencer Overton – each an appointed official in the Administration – have visited the White House many times.

Finally, as we noted last month, sometimes rather than providing clear information transparency can have confusing or amusing results. With an average of 100,000 White House access records created each month, many White House Visitors share the same name as celebrities. In October, requests were submitted for the names of some notable figures (for example Michael Jordan and Michael Moore). The famous individuals with those names never actually came to the White House, but we have included the individuals that did visit and share those names.

Today’s production of records is in response to over 300 requests from the public during the month of October. Those requests have yielded over 1,600 responsive records. Consistent with our earlier announcement that we will only release records that are 90 days or older, this group of records covers the time period between January 20, 2009 to August 31, 2009. All of these have been added to the online database of published visitor records in an accessible, searchable format for anyone to browse or download.

He closes with “Happy Thanksgiving!”

Earlier this year in a compromise move the White House agreed to start collecting for public consumption the names of all the visitors to the campus.

They are the first administration in history to do so, and the decision was hailed by open government groups as a step forward, though some wanted clarification for who would determine which visitors names would be kept secret under the limited exceptions clause the White House left in place for security concerns.

The new policy went into effect on Sept. 15 and will only apply to visitors from that time forward. The logs will be released every 90 days, with the first ones expected around New Year’s Eve. This new document release is in response to Freedom of Information Act requests from news and ethics organizations.

Ed. Note: This post has been updated to reflect the number of new records released today. The White House posted all the data together from this month and last month. There are 1,615 new records.

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