Latest James O’Keefe video leads to call for inquiry into Sebelius-linked group

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
Font Size:

New questions are being raised about the tax-exempt status of an Obamacare enrollment group tied to Kathleen Sebelius after it was implicated in James O’Keefe’s most recent investigative probe.

O’Keefe captured an official for Enroll America, for which Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted to fundraising, being introduced at an event as “the official group for the DNC.” O’Keefe’s work also revealed that Enroll America might be working with the political action committee Battleground Texas, possibly sharing mined data between the two groups.

O’Keefe’s footage was enough to prompt the legal advocacy group Cause of Action to write a letter to the attorney general of the state of Texas asking for an inquiry into Enroll America’s tax-exempt status.

“There may be violations of Texas law as well, including but not limited to: the state False Claims Act; conspiracy to commit Medicaid fraud; and consumer fraud,” according to the letter.

“You may wish to evaluate whether entities such as Enroll America and Battleground Texas are adhering to both state and federal law regarding 501(c)(3) nonprofits and 527 political action committees. Any violations of the Internal Revenue Code may be referred to the Department of Justice or the Internal Revenue Service. Moreover, Texas has the oversight capability to ensure that federal funds are used in a transparent, accountable, and legally compliant manner,” according to the letter.

“You must promptly refer to the HHS Office of Inspector General any credible evidence that a principal, employee, agent, contractor, subrecipient, subcontractor, or other person or entity has submitted a false claim under the False Claims Act, or has committed a criminal or civil violation pertaining to fraud, conflict of interest, bribery, gratuity, or similar misconduct involving those funds,” according to the letter.

Sebelius’ relationship with Enroll America is the subject of a pending government ethics audit.

Sebelius admitted in testimony before a House ethics panel in June that she personally asked the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block to contribute to Enroll America. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation owns more than $1 billion across 13 million shares of stock in Johnson & Johnson, which is regulated by HHS.

The HHS inspector general even subpoenaed Johnson and Johnson in August for information about its promotional efforts for a pain medication.

Sebelius also admitted that she called the health insurers Kaiser Permanente, Ascension Health, and Johnson and Johnson — all of which are regulated by HHS — to discuss Enroll America, but without soliciting donations in those calls. Sebelius bestowed a 2012 award on Kaiser Permanente Colorado, vowing that Kaiser “will be serving as a role model for the rest of the country.”

The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) open audit of Sebelius’ communications on behalf of Enroll America is still pending, though a GAO spokesman declined to provide details to The Daily Caller about the status of the audit.

Follow Patrick on Twitter