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‘Private Citizen’ Sebelius Solicits Obamacare ‘Donations’

7:25 AM, May 15, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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This is hardly the first time Sebelius has engaged in questionable, or outright illegal, practices, in the interest of promoting Obamacare and the man who spearheaded its passage.  The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) ruled last summer, without much fanfare from a press corps that wasn’t feeling particularly inquisitive at the time, that Sebelius violated federal law by using her official position to campaign for Obama.  The OSC wrote that she “violated the Hatch Act’s prohibition against using official authority or influence to affect the results of an election.”  

At a North Carolina event at which her official title was emphasized, Sebelius said, “This Administration is committed to keep working with you but I have to tell you, we have just begun, and a lot of what I have just explained could be wiped out in a heartbeat.  So…one of the imperatives is to…make sure that in November he [Obama] continues to be President for another four years….North Carolina is hugely important in this next election…and it’s hugely important to make sure that we reelect the President.”  Politico observes that “Hatch Act violations against sitting Cabinet secretaries are relatively rare,” and the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon describes them as offenses “for which other federal workers are fired.”

A few months prior to violating federal law in that instance, Sebelius had launched the Senior Swindle, an $8.3 billion (yes, with a “b”) gambit to help Obama get reelected and of course help herself stay in office as well.  That $8.3 billion in taxpayer money, about eight times what Obama raised for his campaign from private sources, was spent to hide the damaging effects of Obamacare’s Medicare Advantage cuts until after election.  Sebelius used the money to avoid cuts to Medicare Advantage through November and did so under the guise of funding a “demonstration project,” since HHS secretaries are empowered to conduct modest demonstration projects from time to time. 

But the federal government’s own Government Accountability Office (GAO) — the nonpartisan congressional watchdog — highlighted this “demonstration project” as a sham.  It wrote that Sebelius “should cancel” the project and perhaps, sometime in the future, consider “conducting an appropriately designed demonstration.”  The GAO noted that there had been 85 HHS demonstration projects since 1995, but this “demonstration project” would cost more those previous 17 years’ worth of projects combined.  After Sebelius ignored the GAO and continued the project, and Mitt Romney and other Republicans failed to call attention to it, the GAO released another letter, declaring that it remained “concerned” about the project’s legality. 

Ben Sasse, HHS’s assistant secretary for planning and evaluation until early 2009 and now the president of Midland University, said of the Senior Swindle, “If a presidential administration can simply make up the authority to make law and give itself the power of the purse to implement its new law — which not only isn’t designed to make existing law work but is actually against the purpose of existing law — why do we need a Congress?”  Sasse added, “In scope and intention, this is something completely new, and if it’s allowed to establish precedent, the only limit on what future administrations could spend money on, or how much they could unilaterally spend, would be their own electoral calculations about what they could get away with.”

Now, Sebelius is looking to extend that dubious standard — doing whatever one can get away with politically — to cabinet secretaries’ solicitations of private donations to fund politically contentious efforts that they are undertaking as secretary.

 

 

 

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