A White House offical met privately with Wall Street investors who were looking to gather advance information on pending healthcare laws and regulations, The Washington Post reported
Post reporters reviewed White House records showing that Elizabeth Fowler, then a top health-policy adviser to President Barack Obama, met in 2011 and 2012 with half a dozen leading investors, including one who managed a $6 billion health fund.
The newspaper said it did not uncover evidence the two administration officials divulged confidential information or that investors used the information to make money.
However, the timing and nature of government decisions can directly affect the profits of insurance companies, hospitals, managed care companies and pharmaceutical enterprises.
Richard Painter, a former ethics officer, said he recommended against similar meetings that investors requested during the George W. Bush administration.
“It is inappropriate for White House staff to meet with hedge funds and other investors about anything other than investment-company regulation. Why is White House time being wasted on these meetings when so many businesses want access to inform government policy but can’t get inside?” Painter said.
Fowler said her meetings with investors were innocuous public policy discussions and that “As a general principle, I met with anyone who requested a meeting.”
Federal investigators and lawmakers are paying particular attention to these meetings that are arranged by a new generation of lobbyists in Washington that gather so called “political intelligence.”
“That kind of thing is exactly what we are trying to stop,” said Democratic Rep. Louise M. Slaughter of New York.
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