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After the White House took heat for asking people to report "fishy" information about health care reform, the e-mail address set up for that purpose became inactive Monday.
It's unclear whether the White House pulled the plug on the controversial account, email@example.com, or whether there is a bug in the system.
But the error message that shows up indicates it is a permanent change.
I figured it backfired on them and they are going back to square one.
WASHINGTON (AP) - After insisting no one was receiving unsolicited e-mails from the White House, officials reversed their story Monday night and blamed outside political groups for the unwanted messages from the tech-savvy operation.
White House online director Macon Phillips said in a blog posting that independent groups—he didn't name them—had signed-up their members to receive regular updates about Obama's projects, priorities and speeches.
The White House had consistently denied that anyone who hadn't sought the e-mails had received them.
"It has come to our attention that some people may have been subscribed to our e-mail lists without their knowledge—likely as a result of efforts by outside groups of all political stripes—and we regret any inconvenience caused by receiving an unexpected message," Phillips wrote.
"We're certainly not interested in anyone receiving e-mails from the White House who don't want them. That's one reason why we have never—and will never—add names from a commercial or political list to the White House list," he wrote.
The quasi-apology came hours after the top Republican on the House's oversight committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked the White House about its ambitious e-mail plan, which included a message from top political adviser David Axelrod urging support for a health care overhaul.
Issa also asked White House counsel Greg Craig whether officials were collecting names of the president's critics.
"I am concerned about the possibility that political e-mail address lists are being used for official purposes," Issa wrote. "This, again, raises questions about this administration blurring the lines between political and official business."
Issa also wanted to know how, exactly, the White House was using a separate e-mail account designed to track what it called "fishy" claims about its proposed overhaul—an account that was disabled Monday afternoon.
White House says it did send unwanted e-mails