Seema Verma is the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A Congressional investigation discovered that she “abused the federal contracting process” and “wasted millions of taxpayer dollars.” She spent millions on consultants and other services to boost her own profile and popularity.
Congress reviewed thousands of pages of documents. Consultants’ invoices and Verma’s own emails support the findings. Verma hired teams of pricey media consultants to land interviews, schedule meetings, and draft speeches, talking points, and op-eds. In one example of Verma’s illegal spending, CMS paid a Trump administration official, Pam Stevens, $115,000 to book Verma on conservative media outlets. Verma paid consultants nearly $3,000 in taxpayer money to put together a “Girl’s Night” at journalist Susan Page’s home.
“Why are taxpayers paying for that?!?
Politico first reported on Verma’s expensive consulting contracts in March 2019. In July 2020, the Health and Human Services inspector general found that Verma broke federal contracting rules by contracting with expensive outside consultants rather than utilizing the 200 government communications staffers at her disposal.
Evidence shows that Verma directed CMS to pay public relations firm Nahigian Strategies $3 million. Nahigian is led by a former Trump aide. Verma also hired her friend Marcus Barlow after the administration rejected her attempt to hire him at HHS.
Verma has also made headlines for requesting the government pay for her $47,000 in jewelry and other personal items. She reported them lost during a July 2018 trip she made to San Francisco. Among the items Verma requested she be reimbursed for was a $325 moisturizing cream and a $5,900 Ivanka Trump brand pendant.
“Administrator Verma has shown reckless disregard for the public’s trust. We believe she should personally reimburse the taxpayers for these inappropriate expenditures.”