Senior House Democrat calls for Verma’s ouster

Five House Democrats earlier this month sought Verma’s firing, writing to President Donald Trump that she had shown “a pattern of incredibly poor and misguided judgment when spending taxpayer dollars.”

The letter cited POLITICO’s reporting about Verma’s use of federal funds, including directing millions of dollars toward public relations contracts — some of whom worked to boost her personal brand — and seeking taxpayer-funded reimbursement for $47,000 of jewelry and other goods that were stolen during a work trip.

The Energy and Commerce Committee has been investigating Verma’s conduct since POLITICO first reported on her use of contractors in March. Earlier this week, the panel said the probe has raised new questions about Verma’s role in directing the contracts, and Democratic lawmakers claimed that HHS has largely stonewalled their efforts to obtain key documents from Verma and her team.

Health department officials insisted that they’re complying with the committee’s requests, and a CMS spokesperson this week defended the agency’s use of contractors as part of a broader strategy to promote its message and reach new media outlets.