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Issa Accuses Sebelius, Health Department Of ‘Criminal Obstruction’

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File photo of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. (credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. (credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC/AP) — Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is being accused by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., of “criminal obstruction.”

Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, stated in a letter to Sebelius that the Health and Human Services Department instructed Creative Computing Solutions – a contractor that worked on HealthCare.gov — not to comply with the committee’s investigation.

“The Department’s hostility toward questions from Congress and the media about the implementation of ObamaCare is well known,” the letter obtained by CBS News says. “The Department’s most recent effort to stonewall, however, has morphed from mere obstinacy into criminal obstruction of a congressional investigation.”

Issa said in the letter to Sebelius that the Health Department claimed CCSI was “contractually precluded from producing documents to Congress” and that the department itself would respond to requests from Congress on the company’s behalf.

“The Department’s attempt to threaten CCSI for the purpose of deterring the company from providing documents to Congress places the officials responsible for drafting and sending the letter on the wrong side of federal statutes that prohibit obstruction of a congressional investigation. Obstructing a Congressional investigation is a crime,” Issa said.

Issa called on Sebelius to instruct Health Department employees from obstructing the committee’s investigation of the implementation of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law through the federally-funded website.

“[T]he Department’s instruction to CCSI and other contractors not to respond to congressional document requests runs afoul of a federal statute that prohibits with an employees’ right to furnish information to Congress,” Issa noted. “Under that statute, any effort to enforce a contract that prevents a federal employee – or in this case, a contractor – from communicating with Congress is unlawful.

The department reported Wednesday that 364,682 people had signed up for private coverage under the law as of Nov. 30. That is more than three times the October figure but still less than one-third of the 1.2 million that officials had projected would enroll nationwide by the end of November. The administration’s overall goal was to sign up 7 million people by next March 31, when open enrollment ends.

Sebelius has called for an investigation into the development of HealthCare.gov since it has been plagued with technical glitches since its Oct. 1 launch.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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