Congressional watchdog finds Energy Dept. violated law with anti-ObamaCare tweet

Congressional watchdog finds Energy Dept. violated law with anti-ObamaCare tweet
© Greg Nash

A congressional watchdog agency found Thursday that the Department of Energy violated the law last year with a negative tweet about ObamaCare.

The report from the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, finds that the Department of Energy violated the law because its funding is not directed to be used for health-care messaging.

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The tweet in question, from last July, linked to an anti-ObamaCare opinion piece by Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryRepublicans are the 21st-century Know-Nothing Party College football move rocks Texas legislature Trump tries to spin failed Texas endorsement: 'This was a win' MORE, stating, “Time to discard the burdens and costs of Obamacare: @SecretaryPerry.”

The agency deleted the tweet later in the day.

“We find that Energy violated the purpose statute when it tweeted about the Secretary’s column because Energy did not show that its appropriation is available for the purpose of informing the public about health care legislation,” the GAO report states.   

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse Democrats ramp up probe of FDA approval of Alzheimer's drug Intercept bureau chief: Democrats dropping support of Medicare for All could threaten bill's momentum House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 MORE (N.J.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, denounced the Trump administration over the findings.

“This is yet another example of the Trump Administration’s illegal and unacceptable use of taxpayer funds for political gain,” Pallone, who requested the report, wrote on Twitter.

Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said in a statement that the agency disagrees that it broke the law, arguing that the department has responsibilities related to medical research that make health care within its purview.

"The Department disagrees with the conclusion that DOE was in violation of the Purpose Statute," Hynes said. "DOE’s Office of General Counsel stated in its response letter to GAO that the OpEd and tweet covered issues well within the mission of the Department of Energy."