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 AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderPelosi aide hopeful White House will support drug-pricing bill despite criticism Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Juan Williams: Republicans flee Trump 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.