By Elise Viebeck - 12/11/13 04:13 PM EST
The top House Republican charged with overseeing the executive branch is accusing federal health officials of criminally obstructing his investigation into the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov.
Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (Calif.) claimed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was illegally interfering with the ongoing probe after HHS purportedly told one private contractor not to comply with congressional requests for information.
HHS also purportedly told the CCSI that it would manage any requests for documents from Congress.
Issa said these two arguments amounted to a "threat of litigation to deter private companies from cooperating" with lawmakers' requests for information.
"Obstructing a congressional investigation is a crime," Issa wrote to Sebelius. "I request that you direct all employees in your Department to cease obstructing the Committee's investigation of the implementation of the [Affordable Care Act]."
The move comes after Issa subpoenaed Sebelius in late October for documents related to the rollout.
In response to Wednesday's letter, HHS released a statement saying it takes the matter "very seriously" and that "the privacy and security of consumers' personal information" is a top priority for the department.
"We have received the letter and will respond directly to the Chairman," the statement read. "We are committed to working with the Committee to accommodate its interests in this issue and to respond to the Committee’s requests for documents."