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Janet Rehnquist

Janet Rehnquist (b. May 4, 1957), is a former inspector general of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the daughter of former Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

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Resignation and controversy

Rehnquist resigned in March 2003 as inspector general of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), after Congress investigated her. Rehnquist's job was to investigate fraud, waste and abuse at HHS, including Medicare fraud. Rehnquist delayed an audit of Florida's pension fund at the request of Gov. Jeb Bush's office, assuring that the audit would not be released before election day 2002, when Bush was facing a tight race for re-election. She was also charged with forcing out several top career staff members. Her management was also under review by the Integrity Committee of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, a peer group of inspectors general. She reportedly said in her resignation letter that she wanted to spend more time with her family.

Rehnquist was appointed by President Bush in August 2001. Investigators on the Senate Finance Committee said they heard about questionable practices from dozens of people who work for the HHS inspector general's office. Congressional aides said they heard from credible sources that Rehnquist had a 9 mm handgun in her office, even though she is not licensed to carry it.

Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Max Baucus, D-Montana, leaders of the Finance Committee, requested that the GAO do a complete management review. Grassley said he had heard "numerous allegations" from whistleblowers in the inspector general's office. Insiders have also complained about 19 senior-level staff changes since Rehnquist took over, including the departure of all six deputy inspectors general. All were due to involuntary retirement and reassignments, Grassley said, adding that five of the six former deputies had 30 years or more of experience apiece.

Internal HHS documents showed that a draft audit of Florida's pension program would have been completed before Bush's re-election if the work had started on time. It was first scheduled to begin last April, but the governor's chief of staff called Rehnquist on April 15 to request a delay. Several postponements did delay the start for five months.

Rehnquist has said her decision to grant the delays "was based on the merits and not motivated by political reasons." A spokesman for the inspector general also argued that the audit would not have been completed by Election Day even if it had begun on time, though some documents suggest otherwise.

The issue may have been politically perilous for Bush, the president's brother. The Florida Board of Administration, which runs the pension fund, has been under scrutiny because it invested and lost $300 million in the bankrupt energy company Enron. The federal audit focused on whether the state properly accounted for U.S. contributions to the pension program.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Janet_Rehnquist". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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