‘Non-partisan’ AARP named by Pelosi as part of Democrats August recess health care reform blitz

By Mark Tapscott
Editorial Page Editor
Washington Examiner
August 3, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s August 31 memo to House Democrats with their instructions for the August recess described a comprehensive national campaign designed in conjunction with a long list of outside groups lobbying for government government health care.

Notably listed among those groups by Pelosi is AARP, the 40 million-member Goliath of Capitol Hill lobbying on behalf of government entitlement programs. Said Pelosi, according to a memo obtained by Human Events’ Connie Hair:

“The Leadership is working in close coordination with the White House and outside groups (including but not limited to HCAN, Families USA, AFSCME, SEIU, AARP, etc.) to ensure complementary efforts during August. The President, Secretary Sebelius and other principals in the reform debate will be working throughout the month to hold events, promote the message in the press and move the reform effort forward.”

Pelosi then added that:

“We are also working closely with supportive organizations to ensure they are implementing comprehensive plans for August that include grassroots efforts, media strategies and anything else that can add to the momentum. In addition, a list of groups supporting health reform has been provided to your offices with information on ways you can partner with them in your districts.”

In other words, AARP and the other outside groups are actively coordinating their lobbying efforts with those of House Democrats in a campaign that is explicitly aimed against Republicans who oppose the government-run health care program approved by House Democrats Friday.

Since AARP is a tax-exempt, 501(C)(4) non-profit, it is permitted to lobby, which is why the organization has spent more thus far this year plying the halls of Congress and the White House than any other non-business non-profit. But tax-exempt non-profits are barred from participating in explicitly partisan efforts.

Even more surprising is how Pelosi’s statement flatly contradicts what AARP vice president Drew Nannis claimed Friday here in Beltway Confidential:

“More importantly, and I’d think you’d get this right given your clear fervor for covering our organization, AARP has not endorsed any of the comprehensive reform bills out there but instead supports specific measures that would help our members, like pieces that would close the doughnut hole; make safe, generic versions of expensive biologic drugs available to people who cannot currently afford them; and crack down on waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare. Somehow you seem to have missed this from our CEO Barry Rand in the national tele-townhall we conducted on Tuesday, ‘I want to make it clear that AARP has not endorsed any of the bills currently being debated in the Congress.’ Stated, I might add, with the President sitting about 4 feet away.”

Either Pelosi is mistaken or AARP is in fact actively endorsing and working for comprehensive reform measures. I have asked for a response from AARP, which will appear in this space as soon as it is received…

Entire article and update available here.

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