WASHINGTON - How the state of Illinois spent $33 million sent from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to promote the Affordable Care Act has piqued the interest of the federal Office of Inspector General.
The investigation was sparked when State Rep. Darlene Senger (R-Naperville) raised concerns after reading a June 2014 AP story how a Chicago political strategy firm's three associates landed a role in promoting ObamaCare in Illinois.
The three - Mike Noonan, Victor Reyes and Maze Jackson - had each worked over the years for powerful Democrats such as Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the governor himself. Their firm, Compass Public Affairs, was paid $282 per hour to promote Obamacare into the state's minority and small business community.
Compass was paid more than other states paid firms to do similar work, and while the group successfully enrolled over 217,000 into Get Covered Illinois, they fell short of internal goals.
Those reports caused Ms. Senger to ask the Inspector General to review if the $33 million in federal grants was appropriately spent. In addition, the state received another $36 million to train "Get Covered Illinois" navigators to assist in enrollment.
Friday, Senger released a letter from the OIG saying the office had opened an investigation into her concerns.
“Taxpayers have a right to know how their money was spent,” Rep. Senger said. “We are encouraged that the Inspector General's investigative staff will review the program to reveal if these funds were misused and if any criminal activity occurred. The lack of accountability and absence of transparency in this process has been a gross abuse of the public trust.”
The Office of the Inspector General, according to their letter, is “vested with the responsibility of conducting investigations, audits, and evaluations of fraud, abuse, and misconduct in connection with programs funded or administered by HHS and its operating divisions.” The OIG will share the findings of their investigation when complete.
Rep. Senger is challenging incumbent Congressman Bill Foster (IL-13) in November 2014.