Politics
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is sworn in to testify before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about issues and complications with the Affordable Care Act enrollment website, on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 30, 2013. Sebelius on Wednesday apologized to Americans for the flawed launch of the federal government U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is sworn in to testify before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about issues and complications with the Affordable Care Act enrollment website, on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 30, 2013. Sebelius on Wednesday apologized to Americans for the flawed launch of the federal government's healthcare insurance website. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH) - RTX14TU0  

Kansas lawmakers: Sebelius tarnished her family’s political legacy

Photo of Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ disastrous Obamacare rollout has disgraced her family’s vaunted political legacy in her home state of Kansas, lawmakers told The Daily Caller.

“The joke around the capitol is that the rollout on Obamacare is so bad that even Keith Sebelius would be calling for her resignation,” Kansas state Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce told TheDC, referring to Sebelius’ late Republican congressman father-in-law, whose last name she shares.

Sebelius, a former Democratic Kansas governor who oversaw the launch of the glitch-ridden Healthcare.gov website and an enrollment period that has led to numerous Kansans and other Americans losing their existing health insurance plans, even lost the confidence of her father-in-law’s closest protege.

Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts recently called for Sebelius to resign, even requesting as much to Sebelius’ face in a Senate Finance Committee hearing last week while Sebelius sat “stony-faced.” The move shocked many Kansas insiders who remember Roberts’ decade-long tenure as an aide to his mentor Rep. Keith Sebelius.

Roberts, 77, served as administrative assistant to popular West Kansas congressman Sebelius from 1969 to 1980, when he was elected to fill Sebelius’ seat after his boss’ retirement.

“Each year, they would go around on a tour of the entire district and Pat was by [Keith]‘s side the entire time during those tours. That’s how Pat built up his name,” Bruce said.

“Personally there was always a respectful relationship” between Roberts and the Sebelius family, including Kathleen, “and this has obviously put strains on that and made the relationship a lot more distant,” Bruce said.

Kathleen Sebelius, daughter of a former Ohio governor, is married to federal magistrate judge K. Gary Sebelius, son of the late congressman. The judge’s position in Kansas discourages many people from talking publicly about his wife’s disgrace.

Fort Hays State University in Kansas recently launched the latest semester of its Sebelius Lecture Series, named for Keith Sebelius, but the program’s name is rumored to be encountering some raised eyebrows.