- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Energy Department violated the law when it tweeted an anti-Obamacare column by Secretary Rick Perry last year, a government watchdog said Thursday.

The Government Accountability Office said the Energy Department violated what’s known as the “purpose statute,” which governs how federal dollars can be used.

“Energy has not shown that its appropriation is available for the purpose of informing the public about health care,” it concluded.

Rep. Frank Pallone, New Jersey Democrat, had asked the GAO to investigate whether the agency broke the law after it tweeted Mr. Perry’s column, which ran on cleveland.com in July 2017.

The piece spoke in favor of Senate GOP legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare, which later ran against a wall of Democratic opposition and defections from three Republicans.

“Time to discard the burdens and costs of Obamacare: @SecretaryPerry” read the tweet from the @EnergyPressSec, which was deleted later that day.

Mr. Pallone used his own Twitter account to trumpet the GAO’s findings.

“This is yet another example of the Trump Administration’s illegal and unacceptable use of taxpayer funds for political gain,” the congressman said.

The GAO said the Energy Department violated the purpose statute but did not flout a separate law forbidding the use of funds for grassroots lobbying or for publicity or propaganda.

“Neither the tweet nor the Secretary’s column to which it linked contained a clear appeal to the public to contact Members of Congress about pending legislation,” the GAO wrote. “In addition, neither the tweet nor the column constituted covert propaganda, purely partisan communications, or self-aggrandizement.”


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