Senators investigating Gruber ask for Hockfield’s assistance
Two U.S. Senators, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), have asked MIT President Susan J. Hockfield to act as a mediator in an investigation of an MIT economics professor who failed to disclose financial support.
The senators say that economics professor Jonathan H. Gruber ’87 publicly supported the President’s health care plan in testimonies to the Senate Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions without disclosing the fact that he was being paid $440,000 by the Department of Health and Human Services.
According to a written response from Gruber, he had a research contract related to his work on “technical economic modeling designed to determine the costs of various health care reform policy options.”
Grassley and Enzi, the top Republicans on the committees that Gruber testified to, “are concerned about witnesses who present a point of view to Congress without disclosing financial interests that might compromise their objectivity and independence,” according to a release from Grassley.
The senators sent Gruber a seven-page letter on January 26 that outlined ten topics they wished Gruber to address, including contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements with the federal government in the past five years and his past interviews with the media on health care reform.
Gruber responded to Grassley and Enzi on February 23, claiming “I never intentionally withheld my two HHS contracts from Congress.” Grassley and Enzi’s inquiry is unique, as Gruber states “no [Congress] Member or staffer ever asked me whether I held any government contracts…I suppose I assumed they understood I was being paid for that work.”
In a letter Wednesday to Hockfield, Grassley and Enzi claim that Gruber “failed to answer any of the questions” from their January 26 letter.
“While Dr. Gruber seems uninterested in responding to our inquiry, our interest in this important matter remains,” they said. They set April 9 as the deadline to reply by. Gruber declined to comment, citing his Feb. 23 letter.
Both Grassley letters and Gruber’s Feb. response are available at http://grassley.senate.gov.