Tags: alexander | sebelius | hhs

Lamar Alexander: Is HHS Doing Its Own Iran-Contra?

Thursday, 23 May 2013 10:09 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius risks breaking the law by reportedly raising money for a nonprofit to help implement Obamacare, much the same way Oliver North did during the Iran-Contra affair, according to Sen. Lamar Alexander.

In an opinion piece Thursday for The Wall Street Journal, the Tennessee Republican says the Constitution "does not permit government officials to spend money that Congress has refused to authorize or appropriate," and that federal laws "such as the Anti-Deficiency Act, make the behavior unlawful."

Alexander noted that a Sebelius spokesperson told The Washington Post last week: "We requested additional money [from Congress] ... but we didn't receive any additional funding for the exchanges. So we had to come up with Plan B."

"My immediate thought was: Isn't 'Plan B' what got Oliver North in trouble during the 1980s?" Alexander said.

The senator said if it is true that Sebelius is raising private money for a public program, it's the same unlawful practice that led Oliver North to be investigated in 1986 for raising money in an arms-for-hostages swap with Iran that also was aimed at providing funding for the anti-Sandinista, or Contra rebels, in Nicaragua. Iran-Contra was viewed as a violation of the Boland Amendment, which specifically prohibited funding for the Contras.

"Is Ms. Sebelius raising funds for a private entity and then coordinating with that entity to do something Congress has refused to authorize, or for which it has refused to appropriate funds? And is she raising money from organizations she regulates, in violation of ethics laws?" wrote Alexander.

"If the money being raised by Ms. Sebelius is being spent to do an end-run around Congress, then the Obama administration had better brush up on its Iran-Contra history," he added.


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