Topics: Barack Obama

Wednesday watchdogs: Storm relief grants funding recovery studies

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Watchdog,Watchdog Blog,Michal Conger,Barack Obama,Foreign Relations Committee,Health and Human Services,Judicial Watch,Sunlight Foundation,Kelly Cohen,Inspectors General,Waste and Fraud,Hurricane Sandy

Millions of tax dollars that could go toward Hurricane Sandy recovery are instead going to research on the storm recovery process, according to a nonprofit government watchdog group.

Judicial Watch said the Department of Health and Human Services awarded more than $8 million in grants to support research on the long-term recovery process experienced by Hurricane Sandy victims.

The grants are the first such grants ever awarded by HHS.

The studies, which span more than two years, will focus on "physical and behavioral health aspects of recovery, including community resilience, risk communication and the use of social media, health system response and health care access," according to Judicial Watch.

Taxpayers may be in for the long haul with these grants: "Much more research is needed to support decision making in the long-term recovery process and ultimately to improve resilience,” according Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response.

New York University is one of the grant recipients, receiving more than $870,000 to study factors that influence mental and behavioral health recovery.

Read the full story from Judicial Watch here.

– Kelly Cohen

Obama bundlers to be confirmed by Senate panel

Twenty-five diplomatic appointees are slated to be voted on Oct. 31 by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the six choicest posts are expected to go to Obama campaign bundlers with long histories of financially backing Democratic causes, according to the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group.

Because campaigns aren't required to report bundlers' donations, it's not clear just how much each of the nominees gave President Obama's re-election campaign. But the 25 nominees gave a combined total of at least $4.5 million to the Obama campaign.

The New York Times reported in 2012 that three of the top six had each bundled more than $1 million for Obama, Sunlight said.

And, unlike appointees to more challenging positions, the top six aren't career diplomats.

Pam Hamomoto, nominee for the United Nations post in Geneva, was an elementary school classmate of the president and has been an executive at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.

Dwight Bush, the nominee for Morocco, is the former CEO and president of Urban Trust Bank, and would-be Portuguese ambassador Robert Sherman helped found the Boston office of the Greenberg Traurig law firm.

Go here for the full story from Sunlight.

– Michal Conger

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