GOP senators join Sebelius investigation

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"Companies and organizations should never be pressured for money because it sends the message that contributions are necessary to secure favorable regulatory decisions—creating a 'pay to play' environment—or to avoid regulatory reprisals," the senators wrote in a letter to Sebelius.

The lawmakers asked for detailed information about Sebelius's outreach to industry groups and whether private funds also went to HHS accounts.

Two House committees launched similar investigations Monday.

“Our initial reaction is that this appears at best to be an inherent conflict of interest and at worst a potentially illegal augmentation of appropriation," the senators wrote.

Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderSenate Dems launch talkathon ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote This week: ObamaCare repeal vote looms over Senate Senate panel rejects Trump funding cuts on Energy Department programs MORE (R-Tenn.) has compared the fundraising to the Iran-Contra scandal, in which Congress refused to provide funding for Nicaraguan rebels, so officials in the Reagan administration raised private money for the fighters.