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The Fourth Scandal: GOPs Accuse Sebelius of Obamacare ‘Shakedown’

Illegal, unethical, or no big deal? HHS secretary has been soliciting donations from healthcare companies to fund a private organization promoting PPACA.

by
Bill Straub

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May 17, 2013 - 9:34 am
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WASHINGTON – A handful of congressional committees are looking into Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ solicitation of monetary contributions from private companies to help fund an organization that promotes Obamacare.

Sebelius sought donations from various groups after Congress failed to make appropriations to Enroll America, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to promoting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and making sure the public is aware of its potential benefits. The group is operated by Anne Filipic, former White House deputy director for public engagement.

An HHS spokesman initially denied that Sebelius was seeking the contributions. But the agency reversed course and later maintained that the secretary was authorized to seek assistance under the Public Health Service Act, which permits the secretary to work in behalf of nonprofit groups that offer health information. Justice Department regulations further permit cabinet members to seek contributions to organizations as a private citizen as long as they don’t use their official title or “solicit funds from a subordinate or from someone who has or seeks business with the Department.”

Sebelius has denied asking for money from any firm regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Regardless, Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based, libertarian think tank, maintained that Sebelius is engaged in an “abuse of power” that “strengthened the case for her removal from office.”

Cannon observed that HHS is the federal government’s largest department with a budget of almost $1 trillion per year with most of its funding subsidizing the healthcare sector.

“Those subsidies will increase dramatically when Obamacare takes full effect next year,” he said. “Sebelius has been calling executives from the industry she regulates, including ‘multiple insurance executives,’ and asking them to donate money to Enroll America – a private organization, headed by a former White House official, whose purpose is to help make ObamaCare a success. Sebelius has a history of threatening uncooperative companies with retaliation.”

Even if her activities are not illegal, Cannon said, “they are definitely unethical.”

The revelation struck a nerve with congressional Republicans who unanimously oppose the healthcare law scheduled to take full effect in 2014. The measure requires all Americans to acquire health insurance – with some receiving financial assistance from the government to do so – and expands the Medicaid rolls.

GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, maintain the Sebelius initiative may be more than unethical.

“Secretary Sebelius’s fundraising for and coordinating with private entities helping to implement the new healthcare law may be illegal, should cease immediately and should be fully investigated by Congress,” said Alexander, ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “Such private fundraising circumvents the constitutional requirement that only Congress may appropriate funds.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) characterized the secretary’s solicitation as “the Sebelius shakedown” and demanded to know “what is she promising those businesses that she talks to and what is she threatening them with.”

Barrasso accused Sebelius of devising a plan to “cover over and cover up the train wreck that is happening with the President’s healthcare law” by “shaking down companies, executives throughout the country.”

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Top Rated Comments   
"Meanwhile, Think Progress, a publication of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, maintains that Alexander, one of the most vocal Sebelius critics, raised private donations in support of education reform while serving as education secretary under President George H.W. Bush"
The left is incapable of addressing a criticism without whining that Bush did it first.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (14)
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You will all pay dearly for going against our president. He is here to help us through these hard times. We need to get rid of the second and twenty second amendments to do so. Before his presidency I was jobless. Now I am a high ranking FEMA employee and paid well. 2016 you will see where your disrespect gets you. This is when answers will be given regarding large purchases we have made recently.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fifth, it's the fifth scandal! You and others have forgotten "Fast & Furious!" What makes F&F so important is that we know nothing about the money.
Guns were purchased in the US with cash that was (probably) carefully watched and connected to a particular gun.
When the guns were sold to cartels in Mexico (I got to believe, at premium prices), I suspect the record keeping/accountability was far, far fuzzier. Where is that money? Who has it? How were reports/errors/lost weapons handled?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
So policy is scandal? You are very confused. He is the way! One nation under our president!
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Demanding money from those you oversee is criminal. In the real world (outside the Beltway) it's called extortion or a "shake down". Anyone from Chicago should recognize it.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Catastrophic failure to pass the smell test here, Lady Sebelius.
"The group is operated by Anne Filipic, former White House deputy director for public engagement."
...Er, deputy what now? We peasants must necessarily guess at the job description that goes with a fancy title like that. Safe to say it involves more than a bagged lunch and we won't like it at all.

The garbage bag is now bursting in all directions. The usual suspects will go coy and quiet waiting to see what blows over and how best to keep the smell suppressed and the game going. That includes not just Congress and the MSM but also a noxious crowd of cowardly-lion-like new-media folks, some on this site, whose prime objective is self-aggrandisement. (Oh, and never trust anyone who uses the word 'outreach' with a straight face.)

What to do? A slew of special prosecutors will help, as will the sound of conservative judges banging the gavel -- subpoenas, contempt citations, gentle outrage tastefully understated, etc. Ditto bad-assed/ politically ambitious state A-Gs and DAs and drones at Justice.

But it ain't nearly enough to flush out the filth in our stables.
Calling all tea parties:
"Sam, Sam pick up thy musket....''
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, c'mon; Give Kathy a break.
She's just working for her pimp, Barracky Boy.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Barrasso accused Sebelius of devising a plan to “cover over and cover up the train wreck that is happening with the President’s healthcare law” by “shaking down companies, executives throughout the country.”
Same MO as the IRS pansy thugs. It's all one big push for perpetual power; and rewards from the administration for doing so.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Charlie Rangel (Rango) said that the IRS scandal is "abuse of the tax system."
He obviously got the WH damage-control-set the-narrative memo.
I wonder how many will get the Sibelius damage control memo? The Dems are sinking FAST and they're getting desperate as all their subversive plans unravel. Stress can do some funny things to people.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
isn't Charlie Rangel the congressman that had severe problems with tax cheating????????
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama leading from behind.

Nixon: “I am not a crook”.

Obama: “Me too”.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
New Bumper Sticker:

Once the Government went after Al Capone
Under Obama, the Government is Al Capone
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Meanwhile, Think Progress, a publication of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, maintains that Alexander, one of the most vocal Sebelius critics, raised private donations in support of education reform while serving as education secretary under President George H.W. Bush"
The left is incapable of addressing a criticism without whining that Bush did it first.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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