Washington Examiner: Complaint suggests HUD may have inappropriately promoted Obamacare

Read the full story: Washington Examiner

Cause of Action also alleges that HUD may have violated prohibitions against using appropriated funds “for publicity or propaganda purposes not authorized by the Congress,” as listed in the third edition of “Principles of Federal Appropriations Law,” volume one. None of the suggested Obamacare promotion is specifically mentioned in HUD’s appropriations.


In its letter to HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson, Cause of Action alleged the agency may have “improperly augmented its appropriation by inducing or accepting HUD’s improper use of appropriations.”


“[I]f HHS was an active participant in the creation of materials or strategies the White House distributed to other agencies, including HUD, then HHS was complicit in the appropriation violations committed by those other agencies,” Cause of Action said.

Government Executive: Transparency Group Wants to Know If HUD’s Promotion of Obamacare Was Illegal

Read the full story: Government Executive

Cause of Action suggested that numerous high-level HUD officials and regional administrators may have “improperly directed subordinate staff to engage in activity that violated HUD’s appropriations.”


A second letter to HHS watchdog Daniel Levinson added an assertion that HHS, by accepting volunteer services from other agencies, may have violated the Anti-Deficiency Act.


Copies were sent to dozens of lawmakers with oversight and appropriations duties.

James Valvo on the Lars Larson Show 4/14/2014

Cause of Action’s James Valvo talks with Lars Larson about our letters to HUD and HHS Inspectors General asking them to investigate whether HHS violated any laws when HUD coordinated with HHS and the White House in implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Related Stories:

Start the clip at 1.24.10:

CoA Letters Requesting Investigations of HUD and HHS in Implementation of Health Care Law

Cause of Action sent letters to the Inspectors General of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) asking them to investigate whether HHS violated any laws when HUD coordinated with HHS and the White House in implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Letter to HHS Inspector General

Letter to HUD Inspector General

Read the embedded letters below:

HUD IG Letter by CauseOfAction

HHS IG Letter by CauseOfAction

FOIA Follies: HUD Flags Sensitive Freedom of Information Act Requests for Extra Scrutiny; Political Appointees Involved

Field offices of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) may not release records in response to FOIA requests deemed “sensitive” without obtaining approval from three HUD offices, according to a policy document obtained by Cause of Action from HUD’s Office of Inspector General.

A “sensitive” FOIA request is defined by the policy document as one that involves any of the following:

  • National significance, serious injury, or loss of life;
  • Information that could subject HUD to substantial litigation;
  • Current or former senior HUD management officials; or
  • Questions about HUD’s policies or the performance of departmental responsibilities.

The policy document, which is labeled “current as of April 7, 2008” and confirmed by HUD Public Affairs as still in effect, provides that any field office receiving such a request must notify its “Regional Director” and “Regional Field FOIA Liaison,” as well as “the Headquarters Division in the Office of Litigation.”  If a sensitive request is submitted by the media, the “Regional Public Affairs Officer” also must be notified.

After the above offices are notified, the field office handling the request must prepare a proposed response and obtain the “concurrence” of the Headquarters FOIA Division of the Office of Litigation, the Regional Director’s Office, and the “head of the relevant program office in Headquarters.”  If any of these offices disagree with the proposed response, the “Field FOIA Liaison must arrange a conference call with the FOIA division in Headquarters and the office(s) not approving of the response in order to resolve the outstanding issues and arrive at a consensus as to the appropriate response to the sensitive FOIA request.”

Notably, HUD Regional Directors and at least eight of twenty-two heads of HUD Program Offices, such as the General Counsel and Public and Indian Housing offices, are political appointees.

HUD’s policy concerning sensitive FOIA requests was initially revealed by the HUD IG to Congress on September 29, 2010 in response to an inquiry concerning the politicization of FOIA.  Neither the IG nor HUD has proactively disclosed this policy document to the public, nor is it referenced in HUD’s publicly available FOIA material.**  Perhaps worst of all, the IG’s report to Congress downplayed the policy’s significance.  Despite the fact that HUD’s FOIA policy allows political appointees to weigh in on sensitive requests, the IG accepted the agency’s assertion that “political appointees have a limited role in request reviews and no role in the decision-making regarding the documents to be released to the requester.”

HUD’s FOIA policy is similar to the secret policies that we uncovered at the Department of Defense and the Department of the Treasury, and its impact is equally harmful.   Specifically, it usurps the authority of career FOIA professionals, delays and/or prevents the release of requested records, and further erodes the public’s trust in government.


**HUD’s policy document for sensitive requests includes a URL and is dated “9/16/2010,” but that link does not work.  Nor were we able to locate the document on the HUD website or via the “Wayback Machine” or Google.