Mass Obamacare Grants Pay for Community Organizers to Canvass 40K Doors Just Before Boston Election

According to public records and public statements, the Massachusetts Health Connector Authority gave a progressive community organizing group money to knock on 40,000 doors, just days before the 2013 municipal elections.  The Health Connector Authority is, by law, the Commonwealth’s Obamacare health exchange.

Health Connector public documents show that the Commonwealth has received about $260 million in federal grants to implement the “Affordable Care Act” (Obamacare) in Massachusetts.  Of that the Connector authority has been granted $180 million.  These documents also show, that since the 2012 fiscal year, the Connector Authority has spent 1% of these grants or $1,845,427 with a progressive, health care community organizing group Health Care for All. In addition in fiscal year 2014 the Connector is poised to spend $726,682 with the group.  

Health Care For All is a 501(c)3 non-profit that bills itself as an organization that brings “social justice values into the healthcare system”.  They state that the community organizing values that they employ can be used in other areas needing social justice.  They employ full time “community organizers” to carry out grassroots work.  They are funded by a variety of groups and individuals including large donations by labor unions, such as the SEIU, and are a member of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation network.

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In the November 14, 2013 presentation to the board, the Health Connector Authority staff informed its board that Health Care for all, in conjunction with 10 partner agencies, began canvassing 40,000 doors.  The date the canvasses started was October 23, 2013.  That was 13 days before the 2013 municipal elections in Massachusetts Cities and towns.

Red Mass Group has asked the Health Connector authority about firewalls in place to ensure that the canvasses were relegated to only exchange information and not coordinated with any voter efforts.  As a 501(c)3, Health Care for All is prohibited from electoral activity.  James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has however shown that Enroll America, a HCFA sister organization, employees were not shy in talking about how they were using Enroll America to further political activities.  Contemporaneously with the Project Veritas investigation, Health Care for All’s community organizer Ari Fertig blogged on the Enroll America Website, confirming the canvasses.  

In partnership with the Health Connector-the Massachusetts Marketplace or “exchange”-and local community organizations across the Commonwealth, Health Care For All launched a public education campaign targeted to individuals, families and small businesses-paying special attention to the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking communities-about the affordable health insurance options available in Massachusetts.

Mr. Fertig goes on to explain about the door to door canvassing effort.  

While it may be impossible to prove whether or not electoral activity took place during these canvasses, it is important to note that in October of 2012 a progressive network of 501(c)3’s was established to turn out a progressive (read Democratic) vote in 2014 and beyond.  The organization backing the network is called The Progressive Mass Funders Collaborative and the project is called the Massachusetts voter table (PDF).  Through this project they openly state that they are looking to use 501(c)3’s to turn out a progressive vote through partnership with labor unions and other stake holders.

The MA Voter Table seeks to increase the share of the vote that comes from the “Rising Massachusetts Electorate,” made up of people of color, low-income people, women and youth.  We are developing leadership from low-income communities and communities of color, and carrying out a coordinated field plan, to connect issues, values, and voting for every voter. We work in alliance with existing progressive organizations, issue organizations and labor unions, strategically partnering to increase our impact.  Our capacity-building aim is to strengthen every member organization and amplify the voices of our members and constituents.  We seek to build long-term infrastructure that reduces barriers between base-building organizations and with traditional progressive organizations and labor unions.

The document linked above goes on to show how the partner community organizations, remember these are “non-profits” will be working to turn out the vote on election day for democrats.  It is fair to ask if this pre-election canvass, paid for by the taxpayer, was in fact a training exercise for the Mass Voter Table’s goals.  Red Mass Group has asked the Health Connector Authority to explain the safeguards in place that these canvasses were not undertaken in conjunction with political activity. They have chosen not to respond.

Correction: The original version of this story said that Red Mass Group Contacted the Health Connector Multiple times to explain the firewalls.  While multiple questions were asked about health care for all, the firewall question was only asked once. This was not a true statement and it has been changed.

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