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Kingston Questions HHS Secretary in Obamacare Fundraising Scheme

Reports indicate Secy. Sebelius may have violated federal regulations in seeking funds from entities she regulates

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Washington, D.C., May 15, 2013 | Chris Crawford ((202) 225-5831) | comments
Three members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee which oversees her agency’s funding are questioning Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over recent reports she is soliciting funds from the health care companies she regulates to help launch Obamacare.

Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Chairman Jack Kingston (R-GA) was joined by Subcommittee Vice Chairman Rodney Alexander (R-LA), and Rep. Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD) in demanding Sebelius turn over information about her involvement in a fundraising scheme she has reportedly led over the last three months.

“This is clearly an abuse of power,” said Kingston.  “The top official of a government agency has no business soliciting funding from the entities she regulates for any purpose whatsoever.  Secretary Sebelius owes us answers as to what exactly she has been doing and why it does not violate the law.  As our subcommittee continues its work, we will ensure these questions are answered.”

In the letter, the members specifically request a list of individuals solicited by Sebelius, any HHS employees involved in the solicitation of donations, a justification for why the actions did not violate federal regulations, and information on any interactions of the companies of individuals she solicited and the Department.

The text of the letter reads:

We write with great concern over the reports of impropriety concerning solicitations of donations for a nonprofit that is assisting in the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  Recent media reports have indicated that you, on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services, have solicited donations over the last three months from health industry executives to assist in the implementation of PPACA. Subsequent statements made by HHS staff have offered conflicting information regarding who was solicited. 

As described by the Department of Justice, federal regulations only permit solicitations by federal department officials “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.”  In addition, it appears that a great conflict exists in soliciting funds for this purpose.  Your actions, as described in recent reports, appear to violate these regulations.

To clarify the actions that were taken by you and ensure that no wrongdoing occurred, we request the following information:
• A list of all of the individuals from whom you have solicited donations; 

• A list of any Department of Health and Human Services employees who assisted in any way in the solicitation of donations;

• A justification on why your actions do not violate federal regulations; and 

• Information on any interactions the companies of the individuals you have spoken to have previously had or will have before the Department of Health and Human Services. 

We look forward to your timely response. 

Sincerely, 

/s/ /s/ /s/
Jack Kingston Rodney Alexander Andy Harris, M.D.
Chairman Vice Chair Member
Subcommittee on Labor, Subcommittee on Labor, Subcommittee on Labor, 
Health and Human Services, Health and Human Services, Health and Human, Services,
Education, and Related Agencies Education, and Related Agencies Education, and Related Agencies

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