OPINION/VIDEO: Fox News and Kim Strassel in the WSJ "Axelrod’s Obamacare Dollars"

June 22, 2012

Axelrod’s Obamacare Dollars
Emails suggest the White House pushed business to the presidential adviser's former firm to sell the health-care law.
The Wall Street Journal

Rewind to 2009. The fight over ObamaCare is raging, and a few news outlets report that something looks ethically rotten in the White House. An outside group funded by industry is paying the former firm of senior presidential adviser David Axelrod to run ads in favor of the bill. That firm, AKPD Message and Media, still owes Mr. Axelrod money and employs his son.

The story quickly died, but emails recently released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee ought to resurrect it. The emails suggest the White House was intimately involved both in creating this lobby and hiring Mr. Axelrod's firm—which is as big an ethical no-no as it gets.

Mr. Axelrod—who left the White House last year—started AKPD in 1985. The firm earned millions helping run Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. Mr. Axelrod moved to the White House in 2009 and agreed to have AKPD buy him out for $2 million. But AKPD chose to pay Mr. Axelrod in annual installments—even as he worked in the West Wing. This agreement somehow passed muster with the Office of Government Ethics, though the situation at the very least should have walled off AKPD from working on White-House priorities.

It didn't…

…A basic rule of White House ethics is to avoid even the appearance of self-dealing or nepotism. If Mr. Axelrod or his West Wing chums pushed political business toward Mr. Axelrod's former firm, they contributed to his son's salary as well as to the ability of the firm to pay Mr. Axelrod what it still owed him. Could you imagine the press frenzy if Karl Rove had dome the same after he joined the White House?

Messrs. Axelrod and Messina are now in Chicago running Mr. Obama's campaign. Mr. Axelrod, the White House and a partner for AKPD didn't respond to requests for comment on their role in HEN, the tapping of Mr. Baldick, and the redolent hiring of AKPD. Until the White House explains all this, voters can fairly conclude that the President's political team took their Chicago brand of ethics into the White House.

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