FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
JANUARY 30, 2013 Mary Beth Hutchins, 202-400-2721
Jamie Morris, 202-499-2425
Cause of Action Files FEC Complaint Against Democratic National Committee For Failing to Properly Disclose its Reimbursements for Kathleen Sebelius’ Improper Political Activity
Request also made to Office of Special Counsel to investigate Hatch Act violation by Sebelius aide
WASHINGTON – Cause of Action (CoA), a government accountability organization, filed a complaint before the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and specifically against Andrew Tobias both individually and in his capacity as Treasurer of the DNC for violating the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and FEC regulations when reimbursing the Department of Health and Human Services for Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ 2012 Hatch Act violation.
In September, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found Sebelius guilty of violating the Hatch Act, but claimed that the DNC’s reimbursement meant that the “issue has been resolved.” Cause of Action has found that the DNC failed to properly disclose its reimbursements as independent expenditures, therefore violating FECA.
“While the President gave Secretary Sebelius a pass on the most high-profile Hatch Act violation in history, what has come to light in our investigation is that the reimbursement for her campaigning wasn’t properly filed by the DNC,” explained Cause of Action’s Executive Director, Dan Epstein. “While HHS sought reimbursement from the DNC prior to the OSC’s Hatch Act investigation being complete, the DNC attempted to classify these payments as operating expenditures, and failed to report them accurately on multiple months’ reports. The FEC has an obligation to investigate and take appropriate measures to enforce their own rules as well as FECA.”
Moreover, Cause of Action’s investigation raises the question as to whether Sebelius’ use of her official capacity to support President Obama’s re-election was paid for by a loan from the United States, later reimbursed by the DNC, but nevertheless in potential violation of 18 U.S.C. § 595.
Cause of Action is also filing a complaint with OSC requesting an investigation into Sebelius’s aide AJ Pearlman, for whom the DNC also reimbursed expenses to HHS, yet no investigation into Pearlman’s potential violation of the law was conducted.
According to internal documents procured by Cause of Action through Freedom of Information Act requests, the following facts came to light about the February 25, 2012 event at which Secretary Sebelius campaigned for President Obama and Walter Dalton’s candidacy for Governor of North Carolina:
- March 2012 – DNC fails to report to the FEC any contribution, debt, or other obligation from HHS for relevant reporting period.
- Apr. 12, 2012 – DNC issues check to HHS for $1,003.69 and reported the expense under the category of “Other Federal Operating Expenditure” in their FEC report.
- Jul. 9, 2012 – OSC interviews Sebelius about HRC gala for investigation.
- Jul. 18, 2012 – OSC advises HHS that there were additional costs associated with Sebelius’ attendance at the gala and needed to be reimbursed to the Treasury.
- Jul. 23, 2012 – HHS requests reimbursement from DNC for additional $1,500 travel costs for Sec. Sebelius’s aide.
- Aug. 2, 2012 – DNC again reports payment expense under category of “Other Federal Operating Expenditure.”
About Cause of Action:
Cause of Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses investigative, legal, and communications tools to educate the public on how government accountability and transparency protects taxpayer interests and economic opportunity. For more information, visit www.causeofaction.org.