ObamaCare's chieftain squeezes her clients....
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hit on private firms she regulates for "voluntary donations" to help implement ObamaCare. The Weekly Standard piece by Jeffrey H. Anderson quotes a Washington Post article & adds analysis:
Whether these actions are strictly illegal is not entirely clear. The Post writes, “Federal regulations do not allow department officials to fundraise in their professional capacity. They do, however, allow Cabinet members to solicit donations as private citizens ‘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,’ according to Justice Department regulations.”
The notion that Sebelius is fundraising as a private citizen, when her fundraising is plainly aimed at supporting the legislation she’s charged with implementing as a cabinet secretary, seems laughable. It’s not as if Sebelius is asking people to buy a few boxes of her granddaughter’s Girl Scout cookies. In addition, she is clearly soliciting funds from those who seek to do business with her department. Worse, she’s asking for donations from entities whose actions she’ll be regulating. One former senior HHS official calls her actions “truly unbelievable,” adding that “the conflicts are breath-taking.”
The Post writes, “HHS spokesman Jason Young added that a special section in the Public Health Service Act allows the secretary to support and encourage others to support nonprofit groups working to provide health information and conduct other public-health activities.” But it seems highly unlikely that this exception was designed to green-light a cabinet secretary to ask for million-dollar donations from entities whose businesses she has the power to make or break.
The TWS piece adds that Sebelius already has been flagged for violating the Hatch Act, which bars government employees from engaging in partisan political activities. Sebelius also pushed Medicare Advantage cuts past the election to escape wrath of seniors, a practice flagged by the GAO as exceeding the limited "demonstration projects" HHS can conduct. Finally, Anderson notes that another complex Sebelius scheme apparently violated federal securities laws.
But the main event is the shakedown campaign, aimed at companies highly vulnerable to federal regulatory extortion. Shoehorning this into a public health exception swallows the general rule. Exceptions, by definition, cannot be larger than the general rule(s) they fall under, as such would eviscerate the purported general rule, by making the rule not in fact general in application.
Bottom Line. If extortionate tactics like those Sebelius pursues are allowed to stand, federal agencies will amass de facto unlimited power over the private sector.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Economy, Conservative Politics