Black says missing emails demonstrate administration’s lack of transparency

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) said on Friday that missing emails relating to a congressional investigation into the implementation of the Affordable Care Act demonstrate the Obama administration’s lack of transparency.

Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Legislation Jim Esquea said in a letter last week that some emails sent by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner may not be retrievable.

“In order to recover as many of Administrator Tavenner’s responsive documents as possible, HHS is searching the files of other individuals within the department with whom the administrator regularly corresponded, and we are collecting those documents for review,” Esquea said.

Black, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the administration’s inability to maintain email documentation highlighted its lack of transparency.

“Since implementation began, HHS has repeatedly withheld important information that would help us assess the success or failure of Obamacare, and taxpayers deserve better,” Black said. “We continue to find out how this law is failing to live up to its promises, and we need to know what is going wrong. There are laws that must be followed when maintaining federal records, and HHS owes it to the American public to abide by them. Sadly, this behavior is reflective of the same recklessness we have seen with the investigation into the IRS and is a shameful pattern for this administration.”

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) noted that the administration had “lost or destroyed” emails from more than 20 witnesses without disclosure to the National Archives or Congress for months or even years.

“It defies logic that so many senior administration officials were found to have ignored federal recordkeeping requirements only after Congress asked to see their emails,” Issa said.