Panel Investigating Alleged Medicare Vote Bribery Will Miss July 4 Deadline
A bipartisan four-member subcommittee investigating whether Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) was offered a bribe last November in exchange for a vote in favor of the Medicare legislation has informed the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct that it will miss the original July 4 deadline to file a report on its probe, according to several sources close to the investigation, Roll Call reports (Bresnahan, Roll Call, 6/21). In December, Smith, who plans to retire this year, said that unnamed Republican lawmakers promised to donate $100,000 to his son's congressional campaign in exchange for his support on the Medicare bill. However, Smith later retracted the comment and said that allegations of bribery are "technically incorrect." According to Smith, some Republican lawmakers had said that they would oppose his son's campaign if he did not vote in favor of the Medicare legislation, but they did not offer to donate funds to the campaign, as previous reports had indicated. Smith voted against the Medicare legislation. In March, the House ethics committee announced that the subcommittee will "conduct a full and complete inquiry" into the case. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice also have launched investigations into the case (California Healthline, 3/26).
The heads of the appointed subcommittee, Reps. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) and Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), have already interviewed Smith and his staff and have taken all of his office documents related to the Medicare legislation. According to Roll Call, Smith is "apparently cooperating with the investigation." Hulshof and Delahunt have also begun to interview other legislators involved in the case, although it is not clear if the investigation is targeting anyone so far. Smith, who has refused to comment on the investigation, never specified which House members allegedly bribed him. According to Roll Call, "[l]awmakers who attracted media attention following Smith's allegations are now seeking to avoid any additional questions." It is "unclear" whether the subcommittee will finish its probe by the July 23 congressional adjournment prior to the Democratic convention, Roll Call reports. However, Hulshof and Delahunt are thought to be aiming for that deadline (Roll Call, 6/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.