Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Investigations begin: Healthcare grants provided to lobbyists appear to be a violation of federal law

and that the CDC (grant provider) might have led recipients to believe lobbying was appropriate, despite a federal ban on using grant money for political activism.

Some materials the CDC provided to grant recipients “appear to authorize, or even encourage, grantees to use grant funds for impermissible lobbying,” Levinson wrote.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) raised concerns in May about the grant program, which was designed to promote wellness and prevention. Collins questioned whether the grants had funded political activism, possibly in violation of federal law.

The HHS inspector general looked into the grants at the request of congressional staff and found the same red flags.

Now let's look at just one of the thousands of grants RWJF provided to lobbyists:

Two features about the program are significant: (1) the Foundation encouraged its grantees to be activists; (2) advocacy was emphasized to bring about policy change. The program relied heavily on three major health voluntary organizations: the American Cancer Society; the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association. They provided financial support and, in particular, funds to help lobbying efforts which the Foundation could not support directly. In addition to insight on the effects of advocacy, this chapter offers a window into the role of coalitions in bringing about social change.

So RWJF, a tax-exempt non-profit, provided $99,000,000.00 to the three aforementioned non-governmental organizations and instructed them to "be activists" to "bring about policy change" in other words lobby for legislative action. In the grant verbiage RWJF offers an explanation as to the reason for the grant, RWJF could not directly lobby (support directly) for change, but they felt they could funnel money to surrogate lobbyists and be in compliance. According to the HHS inspector that does not appear to be the case, and investigations / penalties could soon begin.......what say you RWJF?

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