Today, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), led a group of Republican colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General Christin Grimm requesting an audit of the Biden Administration’s $10 billion COVID-19 vaccine public education campaign, which was launched in March 2021 to increase vaccine awareness and confidence.
Senator Burr was joined by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Rand Paul (R-KY), Tim Scott (R-SC), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), and Representatives Cathy McMorris Rogers (WA-05), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Morgan Griffith (VA-09), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health.
In their letter, the Members call for greater accountability from the Biden Administration, following its continued attempt to disregard Congressional oversight requests on how COVID-19 emergency funding has been spent.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Congress has passed five bipartisan COVID-19 relief bills totaling $3.496 trillion,” write the Members. “Recently, it has been reported that the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats are pursuing yet another partisan spending bill, despite record levels of inflation and billions of unspent dollars in COVID-19 relief funds. To date, the Biden administration’s accounting of how it spent trillions of dollars in past COVID-19 relief funding has been inadequate.”
The Members continue, “As part of Congress’s effort to understand exactly how the Biden administration spent COVID-19 relief money, we request an audit of a $10 billion COVID-19 vaccine public education campaign launched by the Biden administration and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).”
The Members also raise concerns over the involvement of highly partisan organizations in the public education campaign, potentially inappropriate direct or indirect funding to these politically-affiliated groups, and possible access these organizations may have to personally identifiable information of Americans.
“It is incredible that HHS and the Biden administration would partner with partisan political organizations and Democrat-affiliated campaign consultants on a $10 billion taxpayer funded vaccine confidence public education campaign, ostensibly intended to appeal to all Americans. It is not clear from publicly available information exactly what these groups do and what benefits they may derive from being a ‘founding member’ of the COVID-19 Community Corps,” the Members write.
“First, we are concerned that some of these ‘founding members’ may inappropriately receive direct or indirect funding and support from HHS for partisan activities,” the Members continue. “Second, HHS’s agencies contain or have access to vast amounts of personally identifiable information on hundreds of millions of Americans.”
“We request that you initiate an audit and investigation of the HHS COVID-19 Communicators program and related public relations campaigns with a specific focus on the whether ‘founding members’ received government funding or access to Americans’ personal information.”
To read the full letter, click here.