After insisting that no one was receiving unsolicited e-mails from the White House, officials reversed themselves Monday night -- but blamed outside political groups for the messages.
White House online director Macon Phillips said in a blog posting that independent groups, which he didn't name, had signed up their members to get updates about Obama's projects and priorities.
"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."
The quasi-apology came hours after the top Republican on the House's oversight committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), asked the White House about its ambitious e-mail plan, which included a message from top political advisor David Axelrod urging support for a healthcare overhaul.
Issa also asked whether officials were collecting names of the president's critics and how the White House was using a separate e-mail account designed to track what it called "fishy" claims about its proposed healthcare overhaul.
On the blog, Phillips said that "fear-mongering and online rumors" were "the tactics of choice for the defenders of the status quo."