Politics & Policy

Obamacare: Enrolling Democrats?

Enroll America’s Christopher Tarango
James O’Keefe reveals how Enroll America is using Obamacare data to organize Dem campaigns.

The investigators at James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas have, in previous videos, exposed Obamacare navigators in Texas encouraging the people seeking their guidance to lie, cheat, and steal from the federal government. But what about Enroll America, the Obama-campaign spin-off whose employees and volunteers are pounding the pavement in search of Americans to send to those navigators in the first place? O’Keefe takes on that group in his latest video. 

Created and run by veterans of President Obama’s campaigns and the Obama White House, Enroll America is using the techniques refined on the 2008 and 2012 campaigns to identify neighborhoods with a high concentration of uninsured residents. In ten states, the organization’s employees and volunteers are going door to door to ensure that, in its own words, “Americans know how and where to sign up for coverage.”

#ad#The group first raised eyebrows in the spring when reports emerged that the secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, had urged companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Kaiser Permanente, and Ascension Health to lend the organization a helping hand.

Enroll America is not enrolling people directly on the federal exchange. Rather, it is asking them to enter their personal information — basic contact info and insurance status — onto “commitment cards” that signify a pledge to learn more about their insurance options. That information is passed to Obamacare navigators and other application counselors who are enrolling people on the exchanges.

What else might Enroll America be doing with that information? “Their contact info and insurance status are added to our database, and may be shared with partners working on enrollment efforts in that consumer’s community,” an Enroll America spokesman tells National Review Online. “We do not share any data with any 501(c)(4) or other political organizations or candidates.”

But O’Keefe’s investigator, posing as the president of a phony 501(c)(4) political-action committee, caught Enroll America’s Texas communications director conspiring to share its trove of data in order to help him hire a field staff and mobilize voters for the Democratic candidate in an upcoming Texas state-house race. “We can mobilize them if we had that list,” O’Keefe’s investigator tells him.

As a non-partisan, nonprofit political-action committee, Enroll America is strictly prohibited from sharing its data for political purposes. “It’s like safeguarded, it is a lock-and-key type of thing, that’s people’s personal information,” the Enroll America staffer, Christopher Tarango, initially tells O’Keefe’s investigator.

With a little prodding, though, Tarango agrees to try to get him the goods. “If I can present you a valid argument showing that this is working, would you be open to it?” the investigator asks. “If you present to me that it works, then I’d be open to it,” Tarango responds. “Look, I like where your head’s at, you’re going by what we call Rule No. 17, Rule No. 17 is — and I told you is — do whatever it f***ing takes.”

Tarango agrees to speak to a top official in Texas’s Enroll America offices. “I will talk to one person who I think might be open to having this conversation behind closed doors and I’ll get back to you on that,” he says.

“And if they can get the list from off the record you’ll make sure I get it?” O’Keefe’s investigator asks. 

Tarango promises: “If we can do it we’re gonna get the list.”

— Eliana Johnson is media editor of National Review Online.

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