AUGUST 25, 2010
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained new documents from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding closed-door health care meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Obamacare Czar Nancy-Ann Min DeParle and union officials. The following are highlights from the documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed on March 17, 2010:
- An agenda for a January 13 meeting between union leaders and White House staff, including Vice President Biden. Importantly, this agenda (which focused on labor concerns) was redacted in the original batch of documents released to Judicial Watch and was sent later under separate cover. The document shows that the meeting was paused so that Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, could go up to Capitol Hill to meet with “progressive” House members.
- A copy of Kathleen Sebelius’ schedule for the weeks of January 11-17, 2010, and January 4-10, 2010. Among other things, the schedule shows the attendees of several White House meetings that Sebelius attended, with a January 15 meeting specifically designated for a “POTUS MEETING ON HEALTH REFORM.” The meeting was scheduled from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm in the White House Cabinet Room.
- A list of all of the labor union leaders who attended a meeting with President Obama along with brief biographical information on each participant. The list included: Richard Trumka; Andy Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union; and Jim Hoffa, President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, among other Big Labor leaders.
These secret meetings violated one of the president’s key campaign promises — to televise all health care discussions on C-SPAN: “I’m going to have all the negotiations around a big table,” the President said during a town hall meeting in August 2008. “We’ll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies — they’ll get a seat at the table, they just won’t be able to buy every chair. But what we will do is, we’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.”
“Secret meetings with special interests to hammer out backroom deals are one of the reasons that Americans oppose Obamacare and this administration’s unethical approach to governing,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.