HHS Secretary Sebelius blasted over contribution solicitation

May 11, 2013 at 3:37 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- Republicans say the U.S. health and human services secretary broke the law by asking industry groups to help put the public healthcare law into effect.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius personally reached out to healthcare industry executives as well as community organizations and asked them to contribute to Enroll America, a non-profit aimed at boosting enrollment in programs created by President Obama's healthcare law, The Hill reported Saturday.

"To solicit funds from healthcare executives to help pay for the implementation of the president's $2.6 trillion health spending law is absurd," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement. "Moving forward, I will be seeking more information from the administration about these actions to help better understand whether there are conflicts of interest and if it violated federal law."

Federal laws prohibit public officials from fundraising in a professional capacity, The Washington Post reported.

However, an HHS spokesman said that Sebelius was within her authority to ask for donations because of a Justice Department regulation that states Cabinet members are allowed 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."

Sebelius is working "with a full range of stakeholders who share in the mission of getting Americans the help they need and deserve," said HHS spokesman Jason Young. "Part of our mission is to help uninsured Americans take advantage of new, quality affordable insurance options that are coming thanks to the health law."

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