May 13, 2013

Lamar Alexander slams Sebelius over Iran-Contra-style health care scandal

Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander says Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius may be involved in an Iran-Contra-style health care scandal and he wants Congress to investigate it.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Sebelius is asking private companies involved in health care to contribute funds to Enroll America, a nonprofit that is working to help implement the Affordable Care Act by enrolling the uninsured and educating Americans on the new law. Congress has turned down requests from the Obama administration for additional funds to help implement the ACA.

Alexander, the ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, called for an investigation into Sebelius’ actions Saturday, saying it “may be illegal, should cease immediately and should be fully investigated by Congress.”
“Such private fundraising circumvents the constitutional requirement that only Congress may appropriate funds. If the secretary or others in her department are closely coordinating the activities of Enroll America, which is headed by a former White House aide, then those actions may be in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act,” he said.

He compared such behavior to the Iran-Contra scandal, “when Reagan administration official Oliver North raised funds and directed their spending through private entities in support of Nicaraguan rebels even though Congress had refused to appropriate such funds.”

A report from the Joint Select Committee charged with investigating the Iran-Contra incident determined that “Congress’s exclusive control over the expenditure of funds cannot legally be evaded through the use of gifts or donations to the executive branch,” Alexander noted.

Alexander added that Sebelius’ actions also possibly violated “federal laws prohibiting raising private funds from those she regulates.”

HHS spokesman Jason Young told Bloomberg News that Sebelius had not solicited money from any companies she regulates.
HHS did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment.


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