03.15.2012 1

Your tax dollars went to lobbying for higher taxes

Our National DebtBy Adam Bitely — Did you know that the Federal Government was spending taxpayer dollars on organizations that would lobby local governments to tax sugar and soda? Were you also aware that such activity is illegal?

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she was aware of the lobbying activities but was not aware that is was illegal. A recent report from The Daily Caller showed that $230 million had flowed in obesity prevention grants to 30 states as part of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work Initiative. The program was established as part of the 2009 “stimulus” bill.

The report from The Daily Caller brought attention to the fact that some of the $230 million found its way to influence peddlers who lobby local governments for higher soda and sugar taxes.

As stated in Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 1913:

“No part of the money appropriated by any enactment of Congress shall, in the absence of express authorization by Congress, be used directly or indirectly to pay for any personal service, advertisement, telegram, telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress, a jurisdiction, or an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy or appropriation …”

Clearly, HHS Secretary Sebelius and the rest of the bureaucrats involved in this matter are not familiar with the U.S. Code. Sebelius told the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health that because the lobbying was taking place on the local level of government that there was no wrongdoing but announced that the practice is now prohibited saying, “The original language that has been part of the law that we have administered and had our grantees administering, applied to grantees lobbying the federal government.”

When the government is spending trillions of dollars by an untold number of bureaucrats this type of activity is bound to happen. Yes, it was illegal, but in a system so large and vast, it is not surprising that the Obama Administration turned their heads, looked the other way, and hoped no one noticed.

Rather than doing everything in her power to put an end to this sort of activity, Sebelius was unapologetic before Congress, acknowledging that she knew the illegal activity was taking place.  Instead choosing to deny that using federal taxpayer money to lobby local government was illegal in spite of the plain language of the law.

For her contempt for the law alone, Sebelius should be forced out of office, and those who misspent these funds should be required to return them.

However, the larger problem is when Congress creates a fund that is over $1 trillion and instructs the bureaucracy to spend it as they see fit in an effort to “stimulate” the economy, government largesse will spill over to increase government largesse. Taking taxpayer money to fight for access to more taxpayer money is a prime example of a side effect of Washington’s spending addiction.

Adam Bitely is the Editor-in-Chief of NetRightDaily.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @AdamBitely.

Copyright © 2008-2019 Americans for Limited Government