Sebelius Fundraising for Obamacare May Have Violated Ethics Rules

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 10, 2013   |   6:14PM   |   Washington, DC

The huge push to implement Obamacare has begun and taxpayers are about to be on the hook for taxpayer-funded abortions or funding the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

To assist in the implementation, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius engaged in some rather controversial fundraising. According to the Washington Free Beacon, that may have violated ethics laws:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius solicited funding from a foundation that holds a significant share of its assets in Johnson & Johnson stock, a move that appears to run afoul of ethics rules, according to a former chief White House ethics counsel.

Sebelius told Congress on Tuesday that she asked the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to contribute to a nonprofit organization that is working to implement President Barack Obama’s healthcare law. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation holds 13 million shares of Johnson & Johnson stock valued upwards of $1 billion, making the foundation one of the pharmaceutical company’s largest shareholders.

Sebelius testified that she had asked RWJF and H&R Block for funds and had talked to Johnson & Johnson, Ascension Health, and Kaiser Permanente about the program but had not asked them for funds. She said she did not solicit funds from any entities under her regulatory authority.

However, former White House chief ethics counsel Richard Painter said RWJF’s large investment in Johnson & Johnson, a company under Sebelius’ regulatory purview, makes the foundation a “prohibited source” that she cannot solicit money from under government ethics rules.



“[The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation] might as well be Johnson & Johnson so far as the ethics rules on solicitation are concerned,” Painter, who served as President George W. Bush’s ethics counsel from 2005 to 2007, told the Washington Free Beacon. “The HHS secretary can’t ask them for money.”

HHS, Johnson & Johnson, and RWJF did not respond to requests for comment.