Jon Swartz, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO - John McAfee said he turned down a request from a House committee to remedy HealthCare.gov because it has "no interest in fixing anything."
The software pioneer, who started anti-virus company McAfee (now part of Intel) but gained notoriety as a "person of interest" in a bizarre murder case in Belize, said officials scoffed at his suggestion that the beleaguered website be rebuilt from scratch.
"They considered my solution political suicide," McAfee told USA TODAY in a phone interview Thursday.
The Republican-led House Committee on Energy and Commerce staff reached out to McAfee in an e-mail Oct. 14 from staff counsel Sean Hayes, hoping to arrange a meeting Thursday in Washington.
But the talks sputtered between the committee and Francois Garcia, a Canada-based associate of McAfee who acted as a conduit. "If the government intended this as a PR stunt, I would certainly not have chosen me for advice," said McAfee, who is in Colorado, recruiting staff for his next start-up. The company, called Future Tense, is developing products to prevent eavesdropping of electronic communications.
In the Oct. 14 e-mail, obtained by USA TODAY, Hayes said:
"Given the failures of healthcare.gov, and Mr. McAfee's expertise, I was hoping he might be able to discuss his views with staff on the hill. It would be an informal discussion: we would take notes but these would not be for attribution, it would mainly guide our oversight and review of the program. This would hopefully not be a heavy lift for him: what problems could lead to the compromise of personal identifying information? What could we be doing to prevent data or identify theft? What advice generally does he have?"