The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

I'm Shocked, Shocked to Find That Fraud is Going on in Obamacare!

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


When I first saw the headline on the Drudge Report, “VIDEO SHOCK: O'Keefe reveals Obamacare corruption...,” I immediately thought of the classic movie, “Casablanca” and heard those immortal words, “I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”  James O’Keefe, the well-known videographer, is at it again.  John Fund has written an eye-opening, yet disturbing piece “The Truth About Navigators” in today’s on-line National Review and how O’Keefe and his Project Veritas is doing the job that real investigative reporters used to do.

You may recall that O’Keefe was responsible for exposing the community organizing group ACORN for its involvement in massive voter fraud.  O’Keefe’s efforts eventually lead to the group’s downfall.  Now he has provided two brief video exposes on the Texas National Urban league (which according to Fund received a $376,000 grant funded by taxpayers for Obamacare outreach in Texas) and Enroll America, a nationwide non-profit group that was created to help people enroll in Obamacare.  O’Keefe’s videos demonstrate possible fraudulent and illegal activities as navigators advise people on how to enroll into Obamacare.

Fund points out in his column that, “the total value of grants doled out for nonprofits and community organizations to hire navigators has topped $67 million nationwide, and some of the money is going to a group run by ACORN’s highly controversial founder.”

That particular group is the Local 100 United Labor Unions that is being run by Wade Rathke, the founder of ACORN.  Although not part of the subject matter in O’Keefe’s videos, Fund points out that Local 100 is a sub-grantee that is providing navigators for Southern United Neighborhoods Groups.  Southern received a $600,678 grant to promote Obamacare enrollment in Texas; a grant for $270,193 to promote similar activities in Arkansas; and $486,123 grant for comparable work in Louisiana.  Fund reports that Marcel Reid, who broke with ACORN in 2008 over its fraudulent activities, told him that “ACORN is forming new groups under new mismanagement, and if Wade Rathke is involved in any of them, it spells trouble.”

Fund writes, “The events of O’Keefe’s video of a Texas navigator site run by the National Urban League are a familiar sight to viewers of his past efforts exposing Medicaid and voter fraud.  Government-paid workers supposedly trained to uphold the law advise clients on how to lie on government forms, evade legal requirements, and ignore proper procedures.”

Here is a gem of a conversation caught on O’Keefe’s camera as reported by Fund:

'You lie because your premiums will be higher,' one navigator advises an investigator for O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, who tells the worker he sometimes smokes.  'Don’t tell them that.  Don’t tell ’em.'

The investigator then poses as a low-income worker at a university who has unreported cash income on the side, worrying about how that might affect his premium subsidies.  That’s no problem for a navigator, who says, “Don’t get yourself in trouble by declaring it now.”

'Yeah, it didn’t happen,' another navigator says.  One more chimes in: 'Never report it.'"

Fund also notes that one of O’Keefe’s investigators visited the offices of Enroll America where employee Daniel Clayton reiterates that his group is “purely nonprofit.  It’s not partisan, non-political.”   But when Brian Pendleton, another employee of Enroll America, is introduced at a local partisan event, Enroll America is described as “the official group for the DNC [Democratic National Committee].”  Furthermore, Fund writes:

Enroll America, O’Keefe reports, appears to be sharing data and working directly with an explicitly political group called Battleground Texas, activities that he notes 'are prohibited unless certain conditions are met.'  Adrian Bell, the regional field director for Battleground Texas, proudly notes the group was 'started by President Obama’s national field director' and is 'dedicated to turning Texas blue.'"

We happened to stumble upon this notice from the Harris County, Texas Democrat Party in which Pendleton is the guest speaker so the accusations certainly seem possible.

Many people in the healthcare policy arena have been concerned about the navigators for some time, particularly when the Department of Health and Human Resources announced they had no time to check the background of the navigators.  The navigators will have access to private information such as social security numbers and tax-return information, an open invitation to identity theft.  When queried by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) at recent hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted that felons could be employed as navigators.

James O’Keefe promised that more is coming in his investigation on the Obamacare navigators.  I am sure he will not disappoint and his activities will likely attract the attention of Chairman Darrell Issa of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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