Monday June 25 4:13 PM ET

GAO Gets Tough with Cheney Over Energy Task Force

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The General Accounting Office ( news - web sites ) has demanded that Vice President Dick Cheney ( news - web sites )'s office immediately turn over information about the activities of the White House energy task force.

At the request of several Democratic lawmakers, the investigative arm of Congress is trying to find who met with the White House panel that was headed by Cheney and how much money was spent by the task force.

The White House has refused to provide the list of names and has questioned the authority of the GAO to even investigate the task force.

In a letter Friday to David Addington, the vice president's counsel, the GAO said a month has lapsed since the agency's first request for facts about the energy task force's activities and the information must be ``provided immediately.''

``We trust that the Office of the Vice President will proceed expeditiously to respond to our existing and future access requests on this review, as well as allowing us to interview appropriate officials,'' wrote GAO general counsel Anthony Gamboa.

If the White House does not provide timely access to the information requested, the GAO is prepared to issue a demand letter, Gamboa said.

Under the law, if the White House does not respond to such a demand letter within 20 days the GAO could bring a civil action to compel a response.

The White House task force met with officials from the oil, natural gas, electric, and nuclear industries, among others, in developing the Bush administration's new national energy plan that was unveiled last month.

Democratic Reps. John Dingell of Michigan and Henry Waxman of California asked the GAO in April to investigate the task force's members and proceedings.

``It is past time for the American people to find out what went on in Cheney's energy task force,'' Dingell said. ``What are they hiding?''

``The Vice President should stop stonewalling and start cooperating with GAO's investigation,'' Waxman said.