Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Wednesday questioning his administration’s request for supporters to report “fishy” behavior on health care to an official White House e-mail address.
“I am not aware of any precedent for a president asking American citizens to report their fellow citizens to the White House for pure political speech that is deemed ‘fishy’ or otherwise inimical to the White House’s political interests,” Cornyn writes today in a harshly worded letter to President Barack Obama in which he asks the president to immediately halt the effort.
It’s not the first time the Obama operation has asked supporters to report back on misinformation spread about the president on the Web—but those efforts were largely conducted through his campaign operation and more recently through the party’s political arm at the Democratic National Committee.
Cornyn, a former member of the Texas state Supreme Court, further suggests that the data that is collected by the White House could “raise the specter of a data collection program.”
“As Congress debates health care reform and other critical policy matters, citizen engagement must not be chilled by fear of government monitoring the exercise of free speech rights.”
If the effort continues, the Texas Republican is asking the administration to detail to Congress and the public the protocols employed by the White House on what they are doing with the data. He further inquires if the administration intends to notify the citizens reported for “fishy” speech.
“Do your own past statements qualify as ‘disinformation’?” Cornyn concludes, “For example, is it ‘disinformation’ to note that in 2003 you said: ‘I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care plan’?”
The White House blog post was done to respond to a viral video posted on The Drudge Report that used clips of Obama other Democrats to suggest his health care plan will eliminate private insurance and lead to a single-payer system.