Politics

HHS Secretary called out for criminal obstruction by House Oversight

HHS Secretary called out for criminal obstruction by House Oversight

According to the Associated Press, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius thinks somebody ought to get to the bottom of that disastrous ObamaCare rollout.  She’s calling for an investigation into how unnamed presidents and cabinet secretaries could have bungled it so badly:

Recognizing that deeper problems may lurk behind the botched rollout of the health care website, President Barack Obama’s top health official Wednesday called for an investigation into management and contracting decisions.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a blog post early Wednesday that she is asking the department’s inspector general to investigate the contracting process, management, performance and payment issues that may have contributed to the flawed launch of HealthCare.gov.

The website was supposed to have been the online portal to coverage under the new health care law, but technical problems turned it into a frustrating bottleneck for millions of consumers. It’s working better now after two months of repairs.

Great, so Frankenstein’s Monster managed to drag himself over that knee-high bar of “working better” than he was before lightning hit the bolts in his neck.  But the House Oversight Committee doubts Secretary Sebelius’ enthusiasm for a real investigation, since she’s been engaged in possibly criminal activity to keep the contractors who designed Healthcare.gov quiet.

As House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said in a letter sent to Sebelius today, HHS “hostility toward questions from Congress and the media about the implementation of ObamaCare is well known.  The Department’s most recent effort to stonewall, however, has morphed from mere obstinacy into criminal obstruction of a congressional investigation.”

At issue is a letter HHS sent to Creative Computing Solutions, Inc. – and apparently several other Healthcare.gov contractors – claiming “the company is contractually precluded from producing documents to Congress.”  The companies were informed that Health and Human Services, specifically the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, would handle all congressional requests for information.

But as Issa points out, the contract prohibited these companies from sharing information with third parties, not Congress.  ”That argument – that the language in the contract between the Department and a private company supersedes Congress’ constitutional prerogative to conduct oversight – is without merit,” Issa wrote.  ”In fact, it strains credulity to such an extent that it creates the appearance that the Department is using the threat of litigation to deter private companies from cooperating with Congress.”

One supposes the response will invoke the special Incompetence Defense developed by the Obama Administration, in which high officials claim they have no idea how the law works, or what anyone in their department has been doing… not in their letters of resignation, but as a reason not to fire them.  The idea is that we’re not supposed to get angry at them, because they didn’t know what they were doing, and take pity upon them because they’re not very good at their jobs.

But as Issa points out, under federal statues, obstructing a Congressional investigation is a crime, violating both the statutes concerning congressional investigative powers, and those protecting whistleblowers.  ”The federal obstruction laws reflect the fact that Congress’ right of access to information is constitutionally based and critical to the integrity and effectiveness of our oversight and investigative activities,” Issa writes.  ”For that reason, it is widely understood that private citizens and companies cannot contract away their duty to comply with a congressional request for documents.”

Did anyone really not understand that?  I’ll bet officials from past Administrations are kicking themselves for not making everybody sign a contract that says they can’t talk to Congress.

Issa stops just short of lowering the boom on Sebelius in his letter, requesting that she direct all HHS employees to “cease obstructing the [House Oversight] Committee’s investigation into the implementation of the Affordable Care Act through Healthcare.gov.”  He also tells her to refrain from further communication with the contractors, and reminds her that everything his committee wanted to see from them is covered by the October 30 subpoena issued to the HHS Secretary.  The charges leveled earlier in the letter would seem to warrant something more than a warning to knock it off, pronto, but perhaps House Oversight is primarily interested in gaining access to whatever Sebelius didn’t want them to see, and Issa’s letter was intended to send certain signals to the contractors.

Update: I originally titled this post “HHS Secretary accused of criminal obstruction by House Oversight,” but I decided to change it because that’s a pretty strong word.  On the other hand, Issa does pretty clearly accuse her of it in the letter… he just doesn’t follow through with any charges or “please prove you didn’t do this” requirements with a cutoff date.  I guess it would be fair enough to say the accusation has been made without charges being filed.  It’s all rather peculiar, unless one supposes that Issa expects a much larger shoe to drop in the very near future.

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  • Concerned4America

    Talk is cheap, how many believe Issa will take any action?

  • MDABE80

    Once an investigation formally begins, all the evidence is locked up………in this case for an awful long time. Sorta thwarts the point. I’m thinking Sebellius would welcome it. She’d be long gone by the time Hillary shows up . Should be quite a show. Pardons looming when his dirty work is complete.

  • Ksmith_Tx

    “Issa stops just short of lowering the boom on Sebelius in his letter,…” – John Hayward

    What boom would that be. This House of Representatives has done nothing to members of the Obama administration that have openly and blatantly lied to it. This is all bluster and show and meanwhile the American taxpayers are being sold down the river.

  • Eff-BHO

    thats all issa ever does. nothing.

  • Jane Orleans

    Now the AMERICAN TAXPAYER is having to foot the bill of a congessional investigation AS WELL AS the billions spent on this montrosity AND losing their health insurance that they liked and wanted to keep AND have to pay the king’s “fine” (oops I meant tax gotta be PC) if they dont get approved and mandated coverage by the king’s deadline? Why not deduct these costs from the benefits of 100s of millions of dollars spent for travel and vacations for obama et al.

  • http://www.amvets.org/ Karl Magnus

    Unfortunately, ALL of the Cabinet Members in this corrupt cabal know that ØbahØlder has their backs. After all, if the Attorney General of the United States can ignore Congressional subpoenas and be found in CRIMINAL contempt of Congress with NO subsequent accountability, ALL of them must be safe too.
    What a Disgrace – ALL of the ØbaHenchmenchen.

    ~(Ä)~

  • http://www.amvets.org/ Karl Magnus

    What are they supposed to do as ØbaHenchmenchen ignore subpoenas, refuse to testify, and IF they DO testify – They LIE? What?

  • John Hayward

    I think Ksmith makes a fair point, and you unfortunately have the right answer. The machinery of oversight has been completely disabled by this Administration, which doesn’t even bother with the usual ritual sacrifice of scapegoats.

    I mentioned when writing about the “imperial executive” hearings that Obama resolved early on to treat every check on his power as a bluff, and call it, knowing the media would never exact a public-relations price for it; and I fear our system has deteriorated to the point that nothing else really matters. That’s partially the fault of an electorate that has lowered its standards to a shocking degree, and only gets worked up about a transgression if it receives 24-hour bad news coverage plus a full spread of furious editorials in nearly every MSM outlet.

    Otherwise, it seems like all of these scandals boil down to Obama tacitly asking, “What are you gonna do, impeach me?” And since the answer is “no,” nothing else amounts to much. The American people tolerate a blatant political operative as Attorney General. He’ll put any significant action against any top Obama official on ice for years.

    So what else *is* Issa supposed to do, except cross his fingers and hope the contractors (who I suspect are the real audience for the letter he wrote) get the message that they must cooperate with Congress?

  • GeorgeStGeorge

    Conflict of interest SHOULD be a concern for the DOJ, but doing Obama’s bidding, instead of carrying out the law, is the modus operandi for Holder, et al.

  • 1Mojo_Risin9

    If I ever get pulled over for speeding, I’m going to call for an immediate investigation and an independent investigator!!!

  • Ksmith_Tx

    What they are supposed to do is do the same thing that they would do to a private citizen that lied to them. I believe they charged Roger Clemens with lying to Congress over taking performance enhancing drugs and he went to trial.

    Each person that testifies before Congress is sworn in and takes an oath to tell the truth or plead the fifth. And as an INDIVIDUAL that person stands before them under no immunity of any branch of government unless Congress grants immunity for their testimony. Lying to Congress by an individual puts that individual in jeopardy of violation and is therefore subject to the same due process as any citizen of these United States.

    Congress needs to follow its OWN rules. If you or I lied to Congress or withheld information we would most certainly go to trial because there would be NO political fallout to Congress as a result.

    Issa and the rest of these phony committee chairs in the House are in this for the political gain and spotlight and nothing else.

    When Holder can sit before these BAFFOONS and openly lie with impunity about his part in the MURDER of U.S. border agents and innocent Mexican citizens through his scheme of gun running to the drug cartels we KNOW that Congress is just blowing smoke.

  • ronpaynter

    This Congress has no teeth or guts to enforce perjury charges against anyone other than NON politicans/government lapdogs. I think Rodger would say that was true as he was sent to jail for perjury regarding the taking of steroids which really didn’t hurt anyone but him. The same cannot be said for liars to the Congress like Eric Holder and James Clapper. These two bums should be resting comfortably in cells provided by the government instead of walking around as free men. This Congress sucks.

  • MikeO48

    The entire Obama Bin-Lyin administration and the democratic party are a huge criminal enterprise. Obama Bin-Lyin’s occupation of the office of the presidency is a crime since he is not eligible to be in that office.

  • 21Palms

    Remember Solyndra… FBI was on site the morning the news broke on that bankruptcy carrying out every file in the building under the guise of investigation into wrong doing. There was evidence of wrong doing alright and now it’s safely housed in an FBI storage facility.

  • pj4me

    No one in Washington will EVER lower the boom on ANYONE in Washington. All we hear when there are more scandals and more corruption is — ohhhhh, this is unacceptable, and we are forming a committee to investigate. Yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah. Between BO and Congress, the promises and lies are getting way too much to take anymore. I don’t believe a word coming out of WA DC! Not even ONE WORD! They are all in it for their own GREED, GAIN AND POWER. BO made sure to quickly surround himself with LIKE criminals: socialists, Marxists, communists, anti-America, anti-Constitution, anti-freedom lawbreakers, in order to cover up for each other’s crimes. Quid pro quo!

  • Jane Orleans

    I agree giveandtake. It is just another way to redistribute wealth…..except it goes in their pockets. Still noone mentions the Transitional Reinsurance Fee.$63/year/person insured by an insurance company. Most customers of employer sponsored healthplans get this cost passed through and it looks like part of the premium increase. BUT employees who work for an insurance company (and UnitedHealthcare has approx 70, 000 employees) it is deductee from payroll checks starting jan 1st as a new payroll tax.
    This amount is to be paid directly to HHS and is tax-deductible to the insurance company as a business expense….yeah a business expense that the customer pays FOR the insurance company. If you read the Federal REGISTER from july 2010 the state purpose of this fee is to distribute money to the state exchanges in order to subsidize healthcare premium cost. HHS decides which exchanges get the money, as another facet of the wealth redistribution agenda.
    Btw…it is not a tax deductible expense for individuals per IRS rules.

  • mudhead

    Theatrics. Just as HSA/TSA. Simple and pure theatrics. No end product. No results for atrocious acts by our country’s representatives at any level. And it is sad.
    There is a very noticable shift in all the conservative blogs I read, that being a newly invigorated hostility. It, of course, is on all levels of citizens, of the American political spectrum.
    Today, nowhere seems to be hope or optimism that there are going to be any consequences for anyone by pseudo champions we once believed in who are illuminating the absurdities and human costs of amateur government destroying our constitution in WDC. We are just very very angry people now. That wick has been lit. It’s interesting to look at as a issue of itself. It also shows a harbinger of things to come out of the arguably most divisive administration since the civil war.
    Faith in the American experiment is the only tangible thing that seems to exist, but nowhere is it in the American government by anyone who has respect for the foundation of the country and the principles that were put into law (and, of course, also done so in a young and hostile new governing environment).