Sebelius has trouble in Kansas

And it’s not a twister, Auntie Em. Kathleen Sebelius left her job as governor of Kansas to take a Cabinet position as Secretary of Health and Human Services in Barack Obama’s administration, but she left unfinished business behind.  The Kansas City Star reports that legislators want to know how a Sebelius-tied charity wound up with an increase in government funding — while they spent $400,000 building a horse ranch:

Kansas lawmakers want to know whether a Johnson County nonprofit used its political connections to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to get a special funding increase last fall.

But a hearing into the matter Wednesday left lawmakers with more questions than answers.

Lenexa-based Community Living Opportunities was awarded nearly $713,000 in extra Medicaid funds. The group serves developmentally disabled Kansans, primarily in Johnson and Douglas counties.

At the time, the agency’s board of directors included Kansas Democratic Party Chairman Larry Gates, a Sebelius confidant, and his former law partner, Dan Biles, whom Sebelius appointed to the state Supreme Court this year. Lew Perkins, the University of Kansas athletic director, also serves on the board. Biles has since stepped down from the board.

The allegations come as Sebelius, a Democrat, awaits U.S. Senate confirmation to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Medicaid.

CLO pleaded poverty, bypassing the normal request process and going directly to the Secretary of Social and Rehabilitation Services.  They got the extra money, which puzzled other service providers in Kansas.  They had requested extra funding through normal channels and had been told that Kansas didn’t have any extra funding.  Imagine their surprise when the outfit that has Sebelius allies on its board got extra Medicaid cash.

The poverty plea looks weak in retrospect as well.  They spent $400,000 on a ten-acre ranch as a therapeutic retreat.  They bought horses and installed a swimming pool while building a house.  Those may be good ideas for therapy, but the money spent on those activities hardly makes it look as though they had run out of cash for actual and ongoing therapies for their patients.

Now Sebelius will, if confirmed, handle Medicaid payments for the entire nation.  How many more recipients have Sebelius pals on their boards?  I guess we’ll find out, because it’s become clear after two short months of the Obama administration that we’re not in Kansas any more, Toto.