GOP catches top health care bureaucrat telling staffers to delete email

The head of Medicare and Medicaid Services sent an email to staffers about the Obamacare rollout, telling them to delete the document after reading it.

It's an innocuous document but raises the more important question: How many other emails did Mary Tavenner ask staff to delete?

The Hill:

House Republicans on Friday accused a top Obama administration health official of telling staff to delete an email related to the healthcare law’s rollout last fall.

In a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, the Republicans point to an Oct. 5 email from Tavenner to staff about how to handle calls from people applying for ObamaCare. 

In the first line of the email, Tavenner writes “please delete this email but see if we can work on call script.”

Republicans in their letter ask why Tavenner wanted the email deleted, and whether she has asked for other emails to be deleted.

“This contradicts ... [the claim] that your practice was to instruct subordinates to retain copies of e-mails,” said the lawmakers, including House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.).

Asked for comment, the CMS did not answer why Tavenner requested the email to be deleted.

“The administrator forwarded this email to a press staffer for her awareness,” said agency spokesman Aaron Albright. “She also copied her immediate staff, and the email was therefore preserved.”

Energy and Commerce has been digging into whether the CMS deleted emails related to ObamaCare’s launch.

The CMS has acknowledged that some emails sought by GOP lawmakers may have been deleted but has said its general policy was to keep emails. It blamed an overwhelming number of emails coming in at the time of ObamaCare’s launch for the deletion of any emails. 

But the release of an email that appears to show Tavenner instructing subordinates to delete an email will bolster the GOP’s case that the administration was seeking to hide emails during ObamaCare’s launch.

Considering that the Obamacare website is still not fully functional, it's important for Congress to get to the bottom of the cesspool at CMS and discover the steps that were taken to deal with the botched rollout. My guess is that the incompetence and plain stupidity that marked the rollout from start to finish was systematically being covered up.

At the time, they knew full well that the rollout would be investigated by Congress. Destroying evidence relating to a Congressional investigation is a crime and encouraging its destruction is also a crime.

Tavenner and other CMS officials have a lot of explaining to do.

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