Coburn: If What Sebelius Did Isn't Illegal, It Should Be - But It Might Be
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said if what Kathleen Sebelius did with fundraising for ObamaCare promotion isn't illegal, it should be.
Coburn, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, joined ranking members Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) of the Senate Finance Committee last week asked HHS Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson to launch an investigation into the secretary's activities.
Sebelius sought donations from various groups after Congress failed to make appropriations to Enroll America, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The group is operated by Anne Filipic, former White House deputy director for public engagement.
"I have no doubt in my mind they have broken U.S. code by augmenting their appropriations," Coburn said yesterday on Fox.
"I have had several large insurance executives tell me that they were asked to contribute to this. So, we're just beginning on this. But if it's not illegal, it should be. And it for sure is unethical. And it is definitely a conflict of interests to extort money from the very people that you regulate," he added.
One of the problems, Coburn said, is considering what happens to the companies who decide not to donate to President Obama's pet legislation.
"This is a large group of people, from pharmaceutical makers to insurance companies to actual chain pharmacies to packaging companies," he said. "They have hit them all up. And 31 U.S. Code 1301-A says you can't do that. And so the, I guess, disconcerting thing, Neil, is here we are outside the law, or at least appearance of being outside the law, in another area in this administration where they just don't really care what the rule of law is, is we want to do this so we don't care what the law says, so we're going to do it."
The senator said Sebelius' rationalizing -- saying the GOP blocked funding to promote the law -- wouldn't cut it.
"The fact is, the law is the law. And that just shows you the attitude of this administration. It doesn't matter what the law is. They're going to do what they want to do. And that is what is undermining confidence both in Congress and in Washington and with this administration," Coburn said.
"What are the facts? Tell us the truth. Don't give us any B.S. and let's look at this. And from what it appears right now from the people I have heard from, you in fact were given a pretty hard shove to contribute to the rolling -- the private sector program to roll out Obamacare," he continued. "And it certainly is unethical. And it definitely is a conflict of interests. And I'm not sure that it doesn't violate supplementing their own appropriations, which is against the law."