Government watchdog opens probe into Trump official's spending on GOP consultants

The Department of Health and Human Services inspector general on Friday said it is investigating the actions of a top Trump administration health care official who reportedly directed taxpayer dollars to GOP communications consultants.

The agency told House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch MORE (D-N.J.) that it has taken preliminary steps to determine whether Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma complied with federal ethics rules.

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Pallone asked for the investigation last week after Politico reported that Verma pushed to use millions of federal dollars on Republican media consultants to boost news coverage of the agency's work.

Among the duties of those consultants was bolstering Verma’s image, Politico reported.

Pallone’s committee oversees CMS, the agency that is responsible for running Medicare, Medicaid and the ObamaCare exchanges.

Verma has drawn strong opposition from Democrats for her policy moves, including cutting funding for outreach to sign people up for ObamaCare and approving work requirements in Medicaid in several states.