More Medicare bill intrigue


Geraldine Sealey
March 18, 2004 10:37PM (UTC)

The Medicare actuary Richard S. Foster isn't the only person claiming he was threatened while Republicans tried to get a Medicare bill passed last fall. The Washington Post covers this angle.

"The House ethics committee announced yesterday it will conduct 'a full and complete inquiry' into a Michigan Republican lawmaker's claims that GOP colleagues tried to win his vote on a contentious Medicare bill last year first by offering to boost -- and then threatening to hinder -- his son's congressional campaign."

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"The inquiry into Rep. Nick Smith's allegations marks the first time in 20 months that the ethics panel has publicly announced such a 'formal inquiry' into reports of questionable behavior by House members. Smith, who has never identified the lawmakers he said tried to influence his vote, promised to 'cooperate fully with the inquiry.' He and the ethics panel -- formally known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct -- declined further comment."

"... Smith, a relatively obscure sixth-term House member who will retire this year, was the subject of intense lobbying on the House floor in the predawn hours of Nov. 22, as GOP leaders sought the last few votes they needed to pass a bill adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare. Smith later wrote an article for a Michigan newspaper saying unnamed House leaders had promised substantial financial and political support for his son -- who is running to succeed him -- if Smith voted yes. Smith, who voted against the bill, also wrote that members had threatened to work against his son's bid if he voted no. The House's top Republicans say they neither threatened nor tried to bribe Smith for his vote."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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