MAY 10, 2013
Back in March, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius went, hat in hand, to health industry officials, asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama’s landmark healthcare law, two people familiar with the outreach said.
Her unusual fundraising push comes after Congress repeatedly rejected the Obama administration’s requests for additional funds to set up the Affordable Care Act, leaving HHS to implement the president’s signature legislative accomplishment on what officials have described as a shoestring budget.
Over the past three months, Sebelius has made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and asked that they contribute whatever they can to nonprofit groups that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law, according to an HHS official and an industry person familiar with the secretary’s activities. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk openly about private discussions.
An HHS spokesperson said Sebelius was within the bounds of her authority in asking for help. [OOOOOOK]
But Republicans charged that Sebelius’s outreach was improper because it pressured private companies and other groups to support the Affordable Care Act.
Federal regulations do not allow department officials to fundraise in their professional capacity. They do, however, allow Cabinet members to solicit donations as private citizens “if you do not solicit funds from a subordinate or from someone who has or seeks business with the Department, and you do not use your official title,” according to Justice Department regulations.
MAY 11, 2013
HHS declined to identify the targeted donors but said none of the companies are regulated by department agencies. [AND OF COURSE, WE SHOULD TAKE THEIR WORD FOR THIS? NOTHING HERE….. MOVE ALONG]
MAY 14, 2013
Senator Lamar Alexander [ranking Republican on the Senate committee that oversees health policy] has said:
I’d like for her to stop. One issue is if she’s raising money from the people she regulates. [STRONG-ARMING THEM? NAWWWWWW] But I’m more concerned about her using private funding and private organizations to do what Congress has refused to do. I and other members of congress are going to ask GAO to look into the extent she’s coordinating with Enroll America or other organizations.
MAY 30, 2013
Senior Republican senators … asked the Health and Human Services’ inspector general to investigate Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ fundraising drive to promote the new health care law — a practice ethics specialists have said is anything from a legal stretch to a shakedown for cash.
HHS officials have confirmed that since March, Mrs. Sebelius directly solicited donations from tax preparation giant H&R Block and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a nonprofit that supports anti-obesity and other health outreach campaigns. H&R Block has yet to respond to the appeal, but the foundation has donated a total of $14 million to Enroll America, although it hasn’t said how much of that was in response to Mrs. Sebelius’ appeals.
This HHS impropriety all seems small potatoes compared with the IRS and Benghazi scandals – and they ARE scandals of the first order…. and the Justice Department’s violation of our First Amendment rights by violating freedom of the press and seizing communication records of a reporter under the guise that he ‘may be aiding and abetting national security leaks’. Holder lied to Congress on this one. He signed off on the paperwork and even shopped for a judge to sign a trumped up subpoena to go after Fox’s James Rosen. THIS one is the press’s ox being gored and so far, they are not taking it lightly. The HHS problem is getting cover from the other three scandals. Let’s hope it doesn’t get swept completely under the rug. It's unethical and illegal for Sebelius to solicit money from folks she will be regulating down the road.... can you say 'shakedown'?