A General Accounting Office report on the job performance of former HHS Inspector General Janet Rehnquist faults her leadership, independence and judgment. The report cites four incidents in which Rehnquist's political independence was in question, including the delay of an audit in Florida that may have affected the re-election of Gov. Jeb Bush, the brother of President Bush, and the settlement of a Pennsylvania hospital fraud case for one-third of what investigators anticipated. In response to requests from elected officials, Rehnquist allegedly ordered then-Chief Counsel Mac Thornton to "get rid" of the case. A draft copy of the 47-page report was obtained by Modern Healthcare's Daily Dose. The final report, requested by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will be released later this week.
In a written response, Rehnquist disagreed with many of the report's findings; she could not be reached for further comment. In February, after months of controversy surrounding her leadership, Rehnquist announced her intent to resign June 1 and said it was to spend more time with her family. She is the daughter of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who swayed a 5-4 court majority in favor of President Bush's 2000 election win. GAO investigators interviewed more than 200 current and former employees of the inspector general's office and examined 8,000 pages of documents to prepare the report. -- by Mark Taylor