Watchdogs: HHS Secretary Tom Price May Have Violated Election Rules To Get His Job

Andrew Perez | July 07, 2017

Two campaign finance watchdog organizations said Friday that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price may have violated federal election rules by paying a company linked to an organization that boosted his Cabinet nomination.

On Jan. 26, Price’s congressional campaign paid $40,000 to America Rising Corp., a Republican opposition research and communications organization, for research. Around the same time, an affiliated nonprofit organization called America Rising Squared began posting videos and fact sheets on its website highlighting support for Price’s nomination and defending the Georgia congressman from Democratic attacks.

The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission calling the payment to America Rising Corp. a “clear conversion of campaign funds for personal use and violation of federal law.” The nonpartisan, Washington, D.C.-based organizations wrote that the Price campaign’s payment to America Rising Corp should qualify as an expenditure for personal use, because it appears to be connected to his confirmation process -- and not related to his reelection in Georgia or his duties as a congressman, as federal laws require.

In the days before his campaign paid America Rising, Price waded through two rocky confirmation hearings where Senate Democrats grilled him about reports that he had purchased shares in health care companies that stood to benefit from his actions as a lawmaker. The Senate voted to confirm Price 52-47 in February.

Price’s payment to America Rising Corp. was first reported by Slate earlier this week in a story documenting how Price and allies of three other Trump administration nominees had called on America Rising and other outside organizations to help secure their Senate confirmation. Price was the only nominee to pay America Rising from his own campaign committee, according to the letter from Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21.