U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius controls a $54 million slush fund to hire thousands of “navigators,” “in-person assisters” and counselors who will propagandize and enroll Obamacare recipients in government-run health insurance exchanges. This nanny-state navigator corps is the Mother of all Community Organizing Boondoggles. It’s also yet another Obama threat to Americans’ privacy.
A reminder about Secretary Sebelius’ sordid snooping history is in order here. In August 2009, HHS and the White House Office of Health Reform called on their ground troops to report on fellow citizens who dared to criticize their federal health care takeover. Team Obama issued an all-points bulletin on the taxpayer-funded White House website soliciting informant emails. Remember?
“If you get an email or see something on the Web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org,” the Obamacare overlords urged. The feds even singled out conservative Internet powerhouse Matt Drudge because he had featured a video compilation of Obama and other Democrats — in their own words — exposing the “public option” as a Trojan Horse for government-run health care and the elimination of private industry.
Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn protested at the time that “these actions taken by your White House staff raise the specter of a data collection program.” The flagging operation was shut down, but a plethora of federal disclosure exemptions protect the Obama administration from revealing what was collected, who was targeted and what was done with the database information.
White House lapdogs dismissed the concerns of conservatives as paranoid delusions. Now, fast-forward three years. In light of the draconian IRS witch hunt against tea party groups and the Justice Department’s plundering of journalists’ phone records and email accounts, every tax-subsidized Obama “outreach” initiative warrants heightened scrutiny.
Obamacare navigators will have access to highly personal data from potential “customers” to assess their “needs.” That means income levels, birthdates, addresses, eligibility for government assistance, Social Security numbers and sensitive medical information. They’ll be targeting both individuals and small businesses. Anyone they can lay their grubby hands on. Who’s getting the navigator grants and training? “Community groups” in 33 states that naturally include socialized medicine-supporting unions and Saul Alinsky-steeped activist outfits.
On Capitol Hill last week, a top Obamacare official told GOP lawmakers that navigators will not be required to undergo background checks. Criminal records are not automatically disqualifying — and that includes identity theft. The federal rule-makers will require online training of a measly 20 hours. Health care regulations watchdog Betsy McCaughey adds that navigators “don’t have to know math or insurance, but rules announced April 5 specify you have to match the race, ethnicity and language preferences of the neighborhood that will be targeted.”
The Obamacare navigator corps smacks of ACORN redux, stocked with demographically tailored Democratic Party recruitment operatives, not objective, informed insurance experts.
Sebelius and her enforcers promise strict neutrality and clean conduct. The bureaucrats say there will be severe consequences for violating citizens’ privacy or breaking any other laws. Pffft. The Office of Special Counsel determined that Secretary Sebelius herself violated the federal Hatch Act prohibition on exploiting her HHS leadership position for partisan activity last fall. She then tried to cover up her breach after the fact by classifying the event in which she electioneered for Obama as a “personal” appearance.
Consequences? What consequences?
Sebelius has zero credibility when it comes to reining in overzealous partisans. But she’s darned good at unleashing them. During the White House pressure campaign for Obamacare, Sebelius goaded her “brothers and sisters” from the brass-knuckled SEIU. SEIU goon Dennis Rivera joined her on a White House conference call in which he lambasted tea party activists as the “radical fringe” of “right-wingers” whose protests amounted to “terrorist tactics.”
Now, the SEIU is on the board of directors of Enroll America, the left-wing, Obamacare advocacy nonprofit for whom shakedown artist Sebelius has been soliciting funds.
Sebelius’ corruptocracy runs deep. While she was governor of Kansas, an independent inspector general reported that her appointed health policy board had “applied pressure to alter an audit report, restricted access to legal advice and threatened to fire her for meeting independently with legislators,” according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Team Sebelius was also embroiled in a ruthless vendetta and obstruction campaign against then-GOP Attorney General Phill Kline, who unearthed damning evidence that the Sebelius administration had shredded key documents related to felony charges against Sebelius’ abortion racketeering friends at Planned Parenthood.
Sebelius notoriously threatened private companies and insurers who increased rates to cope with Obamacare coverage mandates. She bullied private companies to meet discriminatory and arbitrary disclosure demands. And she lashed out at newspapers that dared to report on the true costs of the Obamacare regulatory leviathan.
You can’t trust sleazy Sebelius to navigate anything with her broken ethical compass. This is worse than the fox guarding the henhouse. She has unfettered authority and a bottomless budget to weaponize legions more foxes who will serve as Obamacare’s eyes and ears on the ground. The snitch brigade lives.
Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Regnery 2010).