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Filling The Swamp: Federal Health Contract Directed Cash To Trump Associates

Over a four-and-a-half month stretch from September 2018 to January, the contractors collectively billed at least $744,000.

Former White House, presidential transition and campaign officials for Trump got themselves some cushy gigs at the federal health department, according to Politico:

They were among at least 40 consultants who worked on a one-year, $2.25 million contract directed by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma. The contractors were hired to burnish Verma’s personal brand and provide “strategic communications” support. They charged up to $380 per hour for work traditionally handled by dozens of career civil servants in CMS's communications department.

The arrangement allowed the Trump allies to cycle through the federal government's opaque contracting system, charging hefty fees with little public oversight or accountability.

Over a four-and-a-half month stretch from September 2018 to January, the contractors collectively billed at least $744,000. The Department of Health and Human Services halted the contract in April in the face of widespread criticism after POLITICO reported on Verma's extensive use of communications consultants.

But under the terms hammered out last year, revealed for the first time, CMS agreed to allow at least four consultants to bill up to $204,000 over the length of the contract. That included one longtime Verma ally — Marcus Barlow, her spokesperson while she was an Indiana-based consultant to then-Gov. Mike Pence — who was greenlighted to bill as much as $425,000 for about a year’s worth of work.

You remember Seema Verma. She's the healthcare "expert" Trump hired to gut Obamacare!

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