Watchdog group alleges DNC cover-up over reimbursements for Sebelius political trip
By The Washington Post
Published: Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 8:50 p.m.
WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee failed to properly disclose its reimbursements for a 2012 trip during which Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act, a government watchdog group says.
The nonprofit organization Cause of Action filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission on Tuesday. Cause of Action is headed by Daniel Epstein, former Republican counsel for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel determined in September that Sebelius had violated the Hatch Act — a 1939 law that prohibits executive branch employees from engaging in political activities — by plugging President Obama during a gala last February for the Human Rights Campaign in Charlotte.
During the event, Sebelius told attendees they should “make sure that we not only come together here in Charlotte to present the nomination to the president, but we make sure that in November he continues to be president for another four years.”
After the rally, Health and Human Services reclassified the secretary's trip from official to political, according to a report from the Office of Special Counsel.
The DNC has reimbursed about $2,500 to the Treasury for costs Sebelius and an aide incurred while traveling to the event, according to the complaint.
Cause of Action alleges the DNC reported the reimbursements as operating expenses with the FEC, “thereby avoiding any acknowledgment that the purpose of the expenditure was to reimburse the federal government for Secretary Sebelius' Hatch Act violation.”
The group said federal law requires party committees to report such payments as “independent expenditures,” thus marking them as compensation for political activities.
Cause of Action said Wednesday that the Obama administration effectively made a donation to the DNC and that the committee has never reported that contribution in its FEC filings.
The DNC criticized the group's complaint.
“This is utter nonsense being peddled by right-wing partisans who have nothing better to do than dredge up an issue that has long since been resolved,” party spokesman Brad Woodhouse said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Snowden captivates tech crowd
- Fannie, Freddie profits surprise
- Poll: Uninsured rate drops, but Hispanics lag in sign-ups
- General’s court-martial is thrown into jeopardy
- D.C. mayor denies he knew of illegal ‘shadow campaign’
- Depth, distance reduce impact of quake off California’s northern coast
- Elephants attuned to human voices
- Changes to Medicare drug coverage scrapped
- White House advises teaching students about money
- Lanza’s father says he wishes son was never born
- Deaths from heroin, pain pills called ‘urgent,’ growing’ crisis