FOX EXCLUSIVE: White House reveals private company it uses for mass e-mail distribution

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There’s a new development in the ongoing issue over White House e-mail distribution, a story first reported by Fox News’ Senior White House Correspondent Major Garrett.   

The White House has now disclosed the company it uses to send out mass e-mails.  It's Govdelivery, a Minnesota-based private communications busniness.  The details are revealed in a new Foxnews.com article. 

Several other federal agencies have hired Govdelivery, and it has been used by both democrats and republicans.  Macon Phillips, the White House new media director, says the company was hired in January. 

Fox News has done extensive reporting about individuals who were receiving e-mail correspondence about health care reform from the White House, but never requested to be added to its list. 

Critics raised questions about privacy and what the White House was doing with the list of personal e-mail addresses.  Fox News Correspondent Eric Shawn first reported Monday that Govdelivery was a possible company involved.  

This week the White House acknowledged it was sending unsolicited e-mails, and suggested a third-party could have played a role.   The administration has since changed Whitehouse.gov's e-mail policy in an attempt to fix the problem.

You can watch Major Garrett’s initial exchange with WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs here.

The full Foxnews.com article can be found here or read it in full after the jump.


The White House revealed to FOX News that it hired Govdelivery to distribute mass e-mails after acknowledging this week that people were receiving unsolicited e-mails from the administration about health care reform.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Macon Phillips, the White House new media director, has responded to the controversy over administration e-mails.

The White House hired a private communications company based in Minnesota to distribute mass e-mails, helping to shed light on how some recipients received e-mails in support of President Obama's health care plan without signing up for them, FOX News has learned.

The company, Govdelivery, describes itself as the world's leading provider of government-to-citizen communication solutions and says its e-mail service provides a fully-automated on-demand public communication system.

The revelation comes after the White House acknowledged this week that people were receiving unsolicited e-mails from the administration about health care reform and suggested the problem was with third-party groups that placed the recipients' names on the distribution list.

Govdelivery sent hundreds of e-mails from senior adviser David Axelrod asking supporters to help rebut criticism of Obama's health care plan circulating on the Internet. It also sent e-mails highlighting Obama's speech to the Muslim world in Cairo and the announcement of Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court nominee.

FOX News viewers complained they received these e-mails even though they had never requested any communication from the White House.

Chris Hansen, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union told FOX News that if the White House used the private firm, it's the same as if it had sent the e-mails.

On Monday, the White House implemented several new changes to its Web site, apparently aimed at reducing the number of people who receive unsolicited e-mails and at fighting charges that it's collecting personal information on critics.

Govdelivery does extensive work with a bevy of federal, state, and local agencies, including 11 Cabinet-level departments such as Defense, State, and Justice. Among the tasks Govdelivery performs are FBI internal e-mails and external regional crime alerts, FEMA hurricane or other natural disaster alerts.

In fact, before Jan. 1, Govdelivery handled 85 percent of mass e-mail deliveries for federal agencies.

The White House said it hired Govdelivery based on its performance with those agencies. The company was hired after Jan. 1 but before Obama took office on Jan. 20, the White House said.

The White House notes that Govdelivery also handles mass e-mails for Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, both Republicans.

The White House insists that Govdelivery aggregates nothing and plays no role in the formation of its e-mail list; it is merely an end-product e-mail distributor.

Earlier this week, Govdelivery's president, Scott Burns, declined to comment to FOX News on whether the White House had used his firm to send out the Axelrod e-mails.

FOX News' Major Garrett and Eric Shawn contributed to this report.