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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Political transparency groups are asking the White House to disclose information about the people who participate in virtual White House meetings, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: President Biden has committed to releasing White House visitor logs on a quarterly basis. But good-government advocates say disclosure of in-person meetings isn't sufficient with COVID forcing so much remote work via teleconference.

What's happening: More than a dozen transparency groups plan to send a letter to White House counsel Dana Remus on Friday asking her to address that disclosure gap.

  • "As you know, government business does not stop during a pandemic, and the principle of transparency becomes more, not less, important during times of national crisis," the letter states, according to a copy shared with Axios on Thursday.
  • The letter asks the White House to disclose the names of participants in virtual White House meetings, their affiliations, the dates of the meetings, the staffers with whom they meet and a "general description" of the topic under discussion.
  • It also asks that such information, as well as the in-person visitor logs the White House has already pledged to release, "be made available online in a searchable, sortable, downloadable database."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week: "At this point, there’s not a discussion of making virtual meetings a part of what’s released."

  • "We ask that the administration change course," the letter says, "and immediately begin preparing virtual visitor logs for public release."
  • The White House declined to comment on the letter.

It was crafted by the group Open the Government, which told Axios that 12 organizations have lent their names to the effort and more might sign on by Friday.

  • Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, also signed on in his personal capacity.

The bottom line: Absent disclosure of virtual meeting participants, there will be a gaping loophole in the Biden White House's self-imposed disclosure program, advocates say.

  • Those virtual meetings "shouldn't serve as an end-run around transparency," said Jordan Libowitz, a spokesperson for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — one of the letter's signatories.

Go deeper

Emergency declaration issued in 17 states and D.C. over fuel pipeline cyberattack

Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration said it's "working with" fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline to try and restart operations after a ransomware attack took it offline.

Why it matters: Friday night's cyberattack is "the most significant, successful attack on energy infrastructure" known to have occurred in the U.S., notes energy researcher Amy Myers Jaffe, per Politico. A regional emergency

30 mins ago - World

Sullivan expresses "serious concerns" to Israeli counterpart about Jerusalem violence

Israeli soldiers throw tear gas canisters at Palestinian demonstrators during a protest near the Jewish settlement of Beit El near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, on Sunday. Photo: Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan expressed "serious concerns" Sunday to his Israeli counterpart about "violent confrontations" in Jerusalem and planned evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in the city's east, per a White House statement.

Driving the news: More than 250 Palestinians and several Israeli police officers have been wounded since Friday. Israeli police have used tear gas, stun grenades, water cannons and rubber bullets on protesters, who've thrown "rocks and water bottles" at officers, per NPR. The violence continued Sunday night, AP notes.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated 4 hours ago - Technology

Exclusive: GLAAD finds top social media sites "categorically unsafe"

The leading social media sites — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube — are all "categorically unsafe" for LGBTQ people, according to a new study from GLAAD, the results of which were revealed Sunday on "Axios on HBO."

The big picture: GLAAD had planned to give each of the sites a grade as part of its inaugural social media index, but opted not to give individual grades this year after determining all the leading sites would receive a failing grade.