Obama nominates ex-lobbyist for makers of 'Plan B' to top legal spot at HHS
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 20, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Obama administration has nominated a former lobbyist who represented Barr Laboratories, the makers of the Plan B “morning-after pill,” for the position of general counsel at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Tim Carney of The Washington Examiner has reported that William Schultz, formerly of legal and lobbying firm Zuckerman Spaeder, was appointed deputy general counsel for HHS in 2011, and currently serves as acting general counsel.
Schultz earned $1.5 million from his biggest client, Barr Laboratories. Last year, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a controversial mandate ordering nearly all employer-based health plans to cover 100 percent of the cost of “Plan B,” along with other contraceptives and sterilization procedures.
Religious groups and employers across the nation have challenged this mandate in court. As general counsel for HHS, Schultz would be responsible for its defense, which may present a conflict of interest. At the very least, it may run afoul of an executive order issued by President Obama on his first day in office.
The order bars appointees from participating in “any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients.” Nearly every disputed aspect of ObamaCare and its related mandates greatly affects Schultz’s former drug and hospital clients.
While the Obama administration has made much of its “lobbyist ban” barring lobbyists from political nominations, the rule applies only to lobbyists who have registered as such within two years of their appointment. Shultz’s deregistered as a lobbyist in late 2008, but his personal financial disclosures reveal that he kept some former lobbying clients—including drug companies—as legal clients.
Carney reported that two weeks after deregistering as a lobbyist, Schultz contributed the maximum $2,300 to Obama’s campaign. By waiting until he deregistered, he avoided any potential controversy arising from the Obama campaign’s publicly-touted rejection of lobbyist contributions.
Asked whether Schultz has recused himself from proceedings related to ObamaCare, HHS spokesman Tait Sye told the Examiner, “Bill Schultz assiduously complies with the stringent standards set by the President’s Executive Order on Ethics, including recusal matters. Bill has not been a registered lobbyist since the fall of 2008, which is more than 2 years prior to his appointment at HHS.”
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According to Zuckerman Spaeder’s website, after Schultz left his position as Deputy Commissioner of the FDA under President Clinton, he joined their firm and founded their Food and Drug Practice, which “represents a range of clients in courts, before Congress, in front of the FDA and other government agencies, and during investigations by the Department of Justice or other law enforcement bodies.”
Their clients include “pharmaceutical, medical device, cosmetic, over-the-counter medication, biologics, and food companies – and their executives—as well as nonprofit organizations, trade associations, government agencies, and members of Congress.”
According to disclosure filings, Schultz spent eight years lobbying on behalf of seven different drug companies and the American Hospital Association, earning Zuckerman Spaeder nearly $3 million, Carney reports.