MAY 11, 2017 BY EGBERTO WILLIES
While all the media is hyperventilating about Russia, the sinister nature of the Trump administration is marching off. I will be limiting my Russia blog posts. We better get our eyes on the ball. It was no solace when it took two Republicans to discover this fascist authoritarian act.
Tom Price through his deputy is attempting to prevent employees of the department from telling Congress about any fraud that may be occurring at HHS. Keiser Health News reported,
Two influential Republican congressmen are blasting a Department of Health and Human Services memo to division heads as a “potentially illegal and unconstitutional” infringement on whistleblowers’ rights to call attention to waste, fraud and abuse in the executive branch. The May 3 memo from HHS Secretary Tom Price’s chief of staff, Lance Leggitt, instructed employees not to have “any communications” with members of Congress or their staffs without first consulting the department’s assistant secretary for legislation. Leggitt’s memo said he was only restating a long-standing policy on congressional relations and gave eight examples of contacts needing approval, including requests for calls, briefings, hearings and oversight.
The 10-sentence memo drew an incensed reply from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairmen, respectively, of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. They asked Price to clarify in writing Leggitt’s communication as soon as possible. Their complaint was that the memo contained no exception for lawful, protected communications with Congress.
“In its current form, employees are likely to interpret it as a prohibition, and will not necessarily understand their rights,” they wrote in their letter to Price. “Protecting whistleblowers who courageously speak out is not a partisan issue — it is critical to the functioning of our government,” added the lawmakers. Grassley and Chaffetz warned that the memo could violate federal employees’ constitutional rights to petition the government, as well as violate other laws protecting government employees from reprisals for speaking with members of Congress.