House Oversight Committee Demands Criminal Investigation into Cover Oregon

From the diaries …

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) released a staff report titled, “How Mismanagement and Political Interference Squandered $305 Million Federal Taxpayer Dollars.”  The report details findings from the Committee’s year-long investigation into the collapse of Cover Oregon that included the review of over 170,000 pages of emails and reports.

Cover Oregon was to be the shining star of the Obamacare exchanges.  The federal government rained millions in taxpayer dollars into the state only to have the money squandered by Gov. John Kitzhaber and his political advisors.  The state’s version of Karl Rove, Patricia “Princess of Darkness” McCaig, decided to pull the plug on the exchange when it appeared to be damaging Kitzhaber’s political re-election campaign.  The state also ran millions of dollars in advertisements that looked like they were produced at Woodstock.

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In light of the report’s findings, the Committee sent letters to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Oregon State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum referring the matter for criminal investigation.

Key findings of the report include:

  • There was widespread political interference by former Governor John Kitzhaber’s (D-OR) campaign staffers in official business.
  • The former Governor’s official staff and his campaign advisers undermined the work of the Cover Oregon Technology Options Workgroup and manipulated the process toward their preferred outcome of moving to HealthCare.gov.
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) failed to adequately oversee the development and implementation of Cover Oregon.
  • CMS failed to ensure Cover Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority did not misuse federal funds.

In letters to Attorneys General Lynch and Rosenblum, Chairman Chaffetz wrote, “The documents and testimony show Oregon State officials misused $305 million of federal funds and improperly coordinated with former Governor John Kitzhaber’s campaign advisers.  Official decisions were made primarily for political purposes.  Cover Oregon was established as an independent organization by the legislature, and was not intended to be a wholly controlled subsidiary of the Governor’s political apparatus.  Evidence obtained by the Committee shows, however, close coordination between Governor Kitzhaber, his official staff, his campaign advisers, and the supposedly independent Cover Oregon.  The evidence we have uncovered implicates violations of state laws that restrict political activity by public employees.”