The Obama Scandal the Big Three Networks Aren’t Telling You About
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is under fire for soliciting donations from health care companies to underwrite ObamaCare PR efforts to increase enrollment but you wouldn’t know that if you only got your news from ABC and NBC or skipped Sunday’s edition of CBS’s Face the Nation.
The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks have effectively buried the scandal that was first broken by the Washington Post on May 10.
According to the Sarah Kliff story headlined “Budget request denied, Sebelius turns to health executives to finance Obamacare,” the HHS Secretary for three months has “made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups” to pressure them to contribute to non-profit groups that are “working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law.”
Sebelius’s actions may have violated the law.
… So far, HHS says it has asked only two entities to donate money — the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and tax firm H&R Block — and neither company is regulated by the agency.
But Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) says that Ms. Sebelius has violated the principle that Congress is the body empowered to establish funding levels for the government’s activities and that no administration can short-circuit that process by soliciting and directing donations for things it deems important. In a letter to Ms. Sebelius, he argues that her actions “may violate federal appropriations laws,” and he demands information on how much HHS has coordinated with Enroll America.
The legal question is still murky. The ethical one is less so. The Post’s Sarah Kliff, who broke the story, reports that at least one official in the health-care industry felt pressure to give money and other forms of support to Enroll America. Given that HHS directly controls the markets in which the insurers operate, we would hardly blame them for reading a lot, even too much, into the secretary’s requests and feeling nervous about them. But even if they didn’t, it would have been easy to expect donations to curry favor with Ms. Sebelius.