According to a letter made public Saturday, federal investigators are looking into whether Obamacare funds were misused to benefit a union.
The letter, which was obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation, says the Office of Inspector General has been investigating whether Southern United Neighborhoods (SUN) and its sub grantee, United Labor Unions Local 100 (ULU), purposely misused federal funds from the Obamacare Navigator program to recruit members. The program was designed to help people enroll in Obamacare.
“Your request as to the disposition of your complaint poses a question, which is outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act, through which individuals may request records,” the letter noted. “However, we conducted a search for records relative to your request and were informed there was an open and ongoing investigation concerning this matter.”
Back in September, after conducting its own research, the watchdog group Cause of Action wrote to the OIG asking to investigate whether SUN and Local 100 misused the federal funds. CoA took notice after a court case involving an individual who claimed he was owed overtime by SUN and ULU.
“On June 16, 2014, plaintiffs Cedric Anthony (‘Anthony’) filed a class action lawsuit seeking damages for unpaid overtime against SUN and ULU under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” a letter from CoA detailed, adding:
Anthony alleges he was initially employed by SUN as an ACA federal navigator, visiting community events and enrolling individuals in healthcare. In addition to these duties at SUN, Anthony alleges that he was directed to recruit members for the ULU by visiting schools to register cafeteria workers for the union.
SUN and ULU admit that Anthony was employed by ULU. They deny, however, that Anthony was employed by SUN.
On Nov. 6, 2014, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice, which effectively closed the case. The Joint Stipulation meant questions raised in the case in regards to misuse of funds were not answered, prompting the need for a federal investigation.
“Cause of Action uncovered that Obamacare navigator funds were not only funneled to an ACORN-related entity, but were potentially misused to support union activities at the behest of ACORN founder Wade Rathke,” CoA President Dan Epstein told TheDCNF.
“On the basis of Cause of Action’s request for an investigation, the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services disclosed that there is ‘an open and ongoing investigation’ concerning the use of the navigator funds,” he continued. “It’s encouraging to hear that HHS is conducting a probe to ensure taxpayer dollars are used appropriately, and not to enrich ACORN’s political interests.”
Republican Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch recently estimated the administration spent over $120 million on the Navigator program for the 2014 and 2015 open enrollment periods.
SUN and Local 100 did not respond to requests for comment from TheDCNF.
This report, by Connor D. Wolf, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.