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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Democrats pursue audit of Bill McCollum's office over health care lawsuit

25

March

Senate and House Democratic leaders are striking back at Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum for his lawsuit to stop ObamaCare. They want Senate President Jeff Atwater and House Speaker Larry Cretul (Republicans) to call on the auditor general to examine McCollum's office to determine just what the office is up to, how it picks its targets, etc.

Looks like Cretul's office is ready to say no, and Atwater might follow suit.

The open question: Who wins?

Maybe Sen. Dan Gelber, at least in his his primary bid versus Sen. Dave Aronberg. Gelber's aggressively campaigning against McCollum, even though the Republican is running for governor. McCollum is a conservative that liberals love to hate (for decisions like his role in the impeachment of President Clinton), so Gelber's striking Democratic primary gold.

In the governor's race, it all comes down to the independents in the polls. If they look like they hate the health care reform law, then McCollum will be a darling and his Democratic opponent for governor, CFO Alex Sink, could have a tough time seizing the spotlight. So far, she has avoided the health bill like it's the flu incarnate. But independents also profess to dislike partisanship, and legislative Dems appear to be doing their best to make McCollum out to be a partisan animal.

Anyway, here's the letter:

Dear President Atwater and Speaker Cretul:

On Tuesday, Floridians joined with all Americans in witnessing the signing of historic legislation by President Barack Obama creating for the first time in our country access to affordable healthcare.

With millions out of work, and even more employed but without insurance, this sweeping legislation promises a lifeline to those barred from medical care or unable to afford it.

And so it was with much alarm that we also witnessed the immediate announcement from Florida’s attorney general of his filing of litigation attempting to block the implementation of the federal health care reform legislation. Indeed, the announcement had been preceded by a steady drumbeat of daily media advisories from his office announcing his intentions to the press.

Given the enormous amount of resources and time apparently devoted to this single federally directed issue, it begs the question of just how does the attorney general pick his targets, how effective is his office at investigating those areas he is charged to protect, and how and on what he spends the money appropriated annually by the Legislature?

Under Florida Statutes, Chapter 11.45(3)(a), the Auditor General may audit the “accounts and records of any governmental entity created or established by law” at the “direction of the Legislative Auditing Committee” or pursuant to “his or her own authority.”

As the presiding officers of both chambers in the state Legislature, this letter is to officially request that you charge the current alternating chair of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee to direct the Auditor General to commence a thorough examination of the Office of Attorney General. We request that the audit include a comprehensive probe of the current resources at the Attorney General’s disposal, the deployment of those resources, the expenditures of the office and the way in which those monies are spent, and the effectiveness and comprehensiveness of recovery efforts.

For example, the Auditor General in Aug. 2007 noted findings concerning needed improvements in financial recoveries by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. As the health care debate has unfolded, we learned that despite assurances from his office that improvements had been made, Florida continues to hemorrhage billions of dollars annually due to Medicaid fraud.
 
In particular, we are concerned that certain responsibilities may have been moved to the back burner in order to divert resources to more politically advantageous targets. It is our hope that probes of foreclosure scams or civil rights violations have not been subrogated in favor of more politically appealing investigations.

A comprehensive examination of the current operations of Florida’s top legal authority would certainly go a long way in alleviating those concerns.

We appreciate your attention to this issue, and we look forward to your cooperation.

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:24pm]

    

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