House liberals want group that filed suit against healthcare law to reveal donors

House liberals this week are asking the business group leading the lawsuit against the administration's healthcare reform law to reveal its donors.

Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) say they doubt the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has challenged the healthcare law on behalf of small businesses, as the group claims.

The lawmakers, who head the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), say they suspect the suit is, rather, the work of conservative operatives and "large corporate interests that do not speak for the American people."

Citing recent reports indicating the reform law is helping some small businesses financially, Grijalva and Ellison wonder why a small-business lobbying group would want to dismantle such reforms.

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"Why is NFIB the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that, if found in your favor, would thrust small-business owners back into the ineffective system of skyrocketing rates and low-quality coverage?" the Democrats wrote Tuesday in a letter to NFIB President Dan Danner. "This is not in the best interest of small-business owners, and it does not reflect the popular opinion of the American small-business community."

Grijalva and Ellison also questioned a $3.7 million grant the NFIB received in 2010 from Crossroads GPS, the conservative super-PAC advised by former George W. Bush aide Karl Rove.

"This financial support from Crossroads GPS raises serious questions that small-business owners, Congress, the Supreme Court and the American public deserve to have answered before the court rules on the challenge to the Affordable Care Act," Grijalva and Ellison wrote.

The Democrats are asking NFIB to disclose how the $3.7 million was spent, as well as its donor and member rolls from the last three years.

NFIB has challenged the Democrats' healthcare reform law — the signature legislative achievement of President Obama's White House tenure — claiming it will saddle small businesses with extra costs that will discourage hiring and hobble economic growth. The group is trying to kill the entire reform law by targeting the individual mandate provision, which it claims is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case in March, is expected to rule before the end of this month.

Danner on Wednesday rejected the notion that any significant number of NFIB members are benefitting from the law.

"As soon as the health-care law was passed, the response from NFIB members was immediate and overwhelmingly supportive of challenging the constitutionality of the law in Court," he said in an email. "NFIB has always been, and will always remain, true and accountable to its membership of America’s smallest businesses.”

Danner also dismissed the suggestion that the Crossroads GPS funding is related to the suit.

"As we have said before, Crossroads GPS contributions were not used to fund the healthcare lawsuit," he said. 

This post was updated at 1:03 p.m.

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