With Benghazi revelations and IRS abuses dominating the headlines, the Obama Administration is releasing details on a couple of additional scandals, hoping they will slip under the radar.
No dice, guys:
Last week, The Washington Post reported that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had “gone, hat in hand, to health industry officials, asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama’s landmark health-care law.” According to the Post, an HHS source and an industry official have affirmed that over the last three months, “Sebelius has made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and asked that they contribute whatever they can to nonprofit groups that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law.”
Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that two organizations expected to be supporting the law are The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is expected to give $10 million, and H&R Block, which will give a “donation” of $500,000. The Post and the Times reports also indicate that Secretary Sebelius has made contact with insurers, asking them to support the health law’s implementation.
One of the things I’ve noticed about this Administration is that they are very devoted to finding ways to violate the spirit, if not exactly the letter, of the law. They are constantly searching for loopholes and excuses for behavior that is supposed to be forbidden.
In this case, Sebelius is strictly forbidden from fundraising or soliciting funds in an official capacity. She can do so as a private citizen, but not with her official title and not with companies she regulates. The White House’s answer is that “Sebelius did not solicit for funds directly from industries that HHS regulates, such as insurance companies and hospitals, but rather asked them to contribute in whatever way they can” with is Orwellian doublespeak. There is no question about how industry saw this shakedown and I doubt that the Obama Administration is under any delusions either. They’re hoping that they’ve skirted the law. But the ultimate result is just the same.
But wait, there’s more!
The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.
In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
And, just like that, the press suddenly becomes aware of the gigantic surveillance state that Barack Obama has built up over the last four years.
The government is not saying why they tapped the phones. They have previously hinted that they were investigating a leak of classified information. But even if that’s the case, this was a massive sweep of AP journalists. It crosses that line from investigating a specific criminal action into engaging in broad unwarranted surveillance for any potential criminal action. It’s the difference between having Constitutional safeguards on our liberty and not having them at all.
What we are seeing is apotheosis of an Administration that has had far too little checking and balancing from the media. No matter what Obama has done, the media has been on his side, either ignoring it for finding excuses for it. And they have kept pushing and pushing the boundaries until, perhaps, they have finally crossed a line that even liberals might notice.
With the AP scandal especially, a lot of scales are falling from a lot of eyes. Better late than never, I guess. But we’ll just see how enthusiastically they cover the next revelation.