Two months after five Republican senators scuttled an investigation into Congress’s fraudulent applications to D.C.’s Obamacare exchange, conservative groups are now pushing House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz to subpoena the false documents.
Conservative nonprofit American Commitment led a group of nearly 20 right-of-center organizations in drafting a letter to Chaffetz (R., Utah), which was sent to the chairman’s office on Monday. It urges the Oversight chairman to investigate the House and Senate applications to D.C.’s Obamacare exchange, in which unidentified members of Congress falsely described the two legislative bodies as small businesses in order maintain illegal federal subsidies for themselves and their staffs. Other signatories include the Club for Growth, Heritage Action, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, and Tea Party Patriots.
“Under House rules, you have the authority to issue a subpoena for these documents without a committee vote,” the letter to Chaffetz reads. “On behalf of the members and supporters of our organizations and millions of other Americans keenly interested in this issue, we urge you to do so.”
The applications, which claimed the House and Senate each employed just 45 people and falsified those employees’ names, were first obtained last year by the conservative nonprofit Judicial Watch. But the D.C. health-care exchange redacted the names of the congressional staffers who filed them, making it impossible to ascertain who in Congress ordered the fraud.
’Under House rules, you have the authority to issue a subpoena for these documents without a committee vote,’ the letter to Chaffetz reads. ‘We urge you to do so.’
Senate Small Business Committee chairman David Vitter (R., La) tried to subpoena the unredacted applications, but was unexpectedly stymied by opposition from Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky). When Vitter put the subpoena up for a vote on April 23, GOP Senate leadership reportedly lobbied other Republican senators to withdraw their support. Four eventually did so, resulting in the overwhelming defeat of Vitter’s subpoena request.
By going through the House instead of the Senate and pressing Chaffetz to use his expansive subpoena power as Oversight Committee chairman, American Commitment president Phil Kerpen hopes to ensure that recent history doesn’t repeat itself. “The big unknown is what kind of response we’ll get from the chairman,” he says. “If he says, ‘This is a great idea,’ and he does it, then it’s not going to need a big push to put pressure on him.”
“[Congressman Darrell] Issa did this all the time as [Oversight] chairman,” he says, adding that committee member Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) has also expressed support for the subpoena.
Kerpen says they haven’t heard from Chaffetz since they sent the letter to his office on Monday. The congressman’s office did not respond to a request from NR for comment.
— Brendan Bordelon is a political reporter for National Review.