US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Enzi Leads GOP HELP Committee Inquiry Into Alleged NEA Political Activity

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today led his fellow Republican HELP Committee members in requesting an explanation regarding possible violations of federal law at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Enzi and his colleagues sent the request to NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman.

In the letter delivered today the Senators questioned the possibility of “taxpayer dollars to engage in lobbying activities to promote the President’s health care legislative agenda and other legislative priorities” during several August conference calls with NEA grant recipients and community stakeholders.The letter also raises serious questions regarding how the NEA’s participation in these calls may have violated federal criminal restrictions on lobbying Congress, the Hatch Act, appropriations restrictions on spending funds for such purposes and possible contradictions with the entity’s mission under its authorizing statute.

“…The promotion to NEA grant recipients of topics that are at the top of the President’s legislative agenda and urging a call to action creates a serious conflict of interest,” wrote the Senators.

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