Home > posts > When the Media, Majorities in Both Houses of Congress, and Liberal Activist Groups Aren’t Enough…
November 11th, 2009 1:16 pm
When the Media, Majorities in Both Houses of Congress, and Liberal Activist Groups Aren’t Enough…

…turn a taxpayer-funded federal website into a self-serving online petition! That’s exactly what Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has done with the front page of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Between links to FLU.gov and another to Stop Medicare Fraud, there is an icon under HealthReform.Gov where a visitor can “State Your Support” for health reform this year.

According to Connie Hair at Human Events, HHS’s solicitation of support for Democratic health reform is likely in violation of federal law because it spends money for a purpose other than what Congress intended. In a legal opinion requested by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and written by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), CRS points out that:

Under the United States Constitution, no funds may be expended by federal agencies, or their officers or employees in the executive branch, except by way of an appropriation made by an act of Congress. The “Appropriations Clause” of the Constitution is not only an express assignment of appropriations authority to the Congress, but has also, as explained by a unanimous Supreme Court, been long understood “as a restriction upon the disbursing authority of the Executive department…”

Hair reports further that:

Congress has made it clear that federal agencies are not to use public funds to finance campaign tactics and grassroots propaganda. By law, official HHS funds cannot be used “for publicity or propaganda purposes … designed to support or defeat legislation pending before the Congress … ,” according to and Section 503(a) of Division F and Section 717 of Division D of the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act or for “printed or written matter, or other device, intended or designed to influence in any manner … an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy … ,” according to 18 U.S.C. § 1913.”

In other words, HHS can’t spend taxpayer money to solicit support for partisan legislation. Although there’s little chance of mounting a successful lawsuit against the “State Your Support” link, signers of the petition should be aware that they are doing much more than giving their name. They’re also permitting the Obama Administration to retain their email and postal addresses for future contacts and solicitations, perhaps even for financial contributions. Of course, we can be sure that none of the names and numbers given will be misused or passed along to third parties, right?

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