Friday, January 07, 2005

Publicity You Can't Buy. Oh, Wait... 

USA Today has published a report that the Department of Education paid commentator Armstrong Williams (a former aide to both Clarence Thomas and Strom Thurmond) $240,000 to comment regularly on No Child Left Behind, to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that would broadcast during Williams' show, and to persuade members of America's Black Forum (an association of black broadcast journalists) to likewise discuss NCLB in their respective media venues. Williams states that he did not disclose the contract to his own audiences, but did disclose it to his professional contacts, and he defends his taking the contract because NCLB "is something I believe in."

Others are criticizing the arrangement as an illegal use of taxpayer funds to lobby or promote a piece of legislation. The Government Accountability Office determined that a similar arrangements promoting the administration's Medicare prescription drug plan and an administration anti-drug program were illegal.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:09 PM