White House helped pro-Obamacare group raise funds

White House

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report yesterday that offered some light on the Obama administration’s efforts to raise money for an outside group, Enroll America, to promote Obamacare.

Outgoing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was an already known figure in the push for funding for Enroll America. But the GAO report reveals that the efforts go all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

The White House allegedly was involved in seeking financial support for a pro-ObamaCare group, according to a new report issued in response to Republican concerns about the administration’s fundraising efforts.

Until now, outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was the only official known to have solicited financial support for Enroll America, a nonprofit that promoted enrollment for the Affordable Care Act. But a Government Accountability Office report released Monday detailed not only the secretary’s involvement but that of a White House adviser.

According to the report, though HHS officials said they were “not aware” of any federal government officials outside the agency soliciting funds for Enroll America, a representative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation told GAO “about a discussion” in 2012 between one of their staffers and the “Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy.”

Though not named in the report, this would have been Jeanne Lambrew. The GAO said they were told the official nudged the foundation to give a “significant” contribution.

In May, Sebelius urged insurance and healthcare executives to donate to Enroll America, which led to questions as to whether or not she violated federal prohibitions on partisan activity, known as the Hatch Act. Anne Filipic, Enroll America’s president, has worked for the Democratic National Committee and Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. She also worked for Sebelius at HHS and the White House.

The White House advisor told the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one of the groups from which it was seeking funding, that Enroll America and other groups backing the law “would likely need about $30 million to finance a national outreach effort.” The foundation was “hoped” it “would provide a significant financial contribution to support such efforts.”

GAO didn’t say whether any laws were broken, but if there is a gray area in the law, the White House and Sebelius may have been in it.


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