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Congress to Sue White House for Access to Energy Documents - 2002-01-30

The investigative arm of Congress, the General Accounting Office, says it will file suit against the White House to get access to documents from the Bush administration energy task force, which was headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

A GAO letter to Congress Wednesday says it will take legal steps to obtain the documents. The GAO wants to find out if there was inappropriate influence on White House energy policy formulation by private companies, including the collapsed energy trading giant, Enron.

Vice President Cheney has acknowledged he met with Enron executives several times last year.

The White House has refused to hand over the records, saying disclosure would undermine its ability to obtain independent, expert advice. The White House says it is confident of prevailing in court.

The threatened legal action would be the first time the GAO has filed a lawsuit against the federal government.

GAO Comptroller General David Walker began his pursuit of the task force records last year at the request of Democratic Congressmen Henry Waxman and John Dingell. The two lawmakers complained that environmentalists had been largely shut out of the task force's closed-door sessions.