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Issa blasts HHS letters to contractors

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A House leader is warning Obama administration officials against trying to silence potential investigation witnesses.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has told Creative Computing Solutions Inc., a developer of the public exchange enrollment system, that its contract forbids it from providing contract-related documents to third parties.

HHS told CSSI Dec. 6 that, if CSSI receives any Congressional document requests, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “will respond directly to the requester,” Issa said in a letter sent to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Issa posted a copy of the letter on the House Oversight website.

In the letter, Issa called the HHS move to use the contract term to keep CSSI from giving documents to Congress “criminal obstruction.”

Issa said he believes HHS also told other contractors not to respond to document requests.

A contract between HHS and a private company cannot supersede the prerogative of Congress to conduct oversight, Issa said.

Under federal law, efforts to interfere with congressional investigations can lead to a five-year prison term, Issa added.

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