On ABC's This Week, Karl Rove pushed the anonymously sourced allegation that the White House tried to intimidate Democrats into voting for the health care bill by sending "unsolicited emails to federal employees." However, White House officials have stated that the emails were sent out to everyone on a voluntary White House mailing list and are not specifically targeted at federal employees.
Rove: "We do know" White House sent "unsolicited" health care emails
On the March 21 edition of ABC's This Week:
ROVE: Republicans have offered a positive alternative in health care, and you didn't bother to have one meeting between March 5 of 2009 and February 25 of 2010 to discuss how the White House could involve some of those Republican ideas in the bill. Don't give us that bunk. That is another one of those false arguments offered by the White House.
In fact, you know what? The way that you have sold this bill to Democrats by threatening them. You cannot tell me that the White House didn't sanction some of these groups like MoveOn.org and others to make these kind of threats against Democrats. We do know that the White House sent out unsolicited emails to federal employees asking them to contact their legislators about this bill. I think that's not only a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act on emails, I think it's a violation, more importantly, of the anti-lobbying statutes. And that's the kind of techniques that you've been using on this bill: threats, hardball politics, and, if need be, withholding federal -- the support of the president of the United States from Democrats.
Rove's baseless claim echoes Newsmax contributor who said health care reform would encourage "slacking"
Grenell: WH "has been feverishly sending out unsolicited email messages to federal employees." The allegation was previously touted by Richard Grenell, "spokesman for the last four U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations," in a CBSNews.com "opinion" column, in which he wrote that "White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle has been feverishly sending out unsolicited email messages to federal employees in an effort to build support for President Barack Obama's health reform package over the last several weeks." Grenell continued:
DeParle's unsolicited emails have been regularly coming to some federal employees' official government email inboxes for weeks without permission or request, causing some federal employees to feel threatened by the overt political language.
The Department of State employees, who receive hundreds of official government emails every day, have complained about the annoying and partisan emails but are nervous to go public for fear of retribution. The emails are addressed to the federal employees by name and use the official .gov address.
The unsolicited emails also request that the federal employees take action in order to ensure that Obama's health reform package is passed and the federal budget isn't at risk for bankruptcy. One federal employee was so concerned about DeParle's language in one email that he questioned whether his department's budget would be cut or eliminated without passage of Obama's bill. DeParle uses scare tactics that some assume are meant as threats.
Grenell: Extending health coverage of dependents means youths "will be enticed to continue slacking." In a March 14 Newsmax column, Grenell wrote that a provision in the health care reform legislation that would allow parents to cover dependents up to age 26 would mean that "Generation Y will be enticed to continue slacking, without a job, well past college graduation." Grenell added:
One could understand extending another entitlement program through age 26 in countries where the average workweek is 30 hours per week and vacation time is guaranteed at 8-10 weeks per year. But is this new proposal anti-American? We aren't supposed to reward people who don't work hard and make sacrifices to get ahead. And we aren't supposed to guarantee anything in America but a fair shot. America is a place where you prove your commitment to your family and your community through hard work and sacrifice. It is this ethic that we call American values.
Fox Nation trumpets Grenell's fabrication: "WH Caught Sending Health Care Propaganda to Federal Employees?" On March 19, Fox Nation promoted the allegations on its front page, using this headline:
White House: Grenell's assertions are "inaccurate"
WH spokeswoman: "No one is sent unsolicited emails." An "Editor's note" added to Grenell's CBSNews.com column on March 20 stated that the "White House is disputing" the claim "that e-mails are being sent to people who don't want them." CBSNews.com also posted the following statement from Linda Douglass, the communications director for the Office of Health Reform:
Emailed updates about health insurance reform legislation are sent periodically to members of the public who sign up to receive them. No one is sent unsolicited emails. Mr. Grenell would have learned this if he had called the White House to ask who receives the emails, but he did not contact us before writing. The assertions made in his column are inaccurate.