Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Post Mortem on the Pundit Payola Scandal

The Education Department's Inspector General found the Department didn't break any laws with it's role in the "Pundit Payola" scandal involving commentator Armstrong Williams. But he found a lot of waste and general screw ups in the way the whole project was handled.

The Department contracted with the Ketchum PR firm to encourage minority families to take advantage of a tutoring program. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings writes in an op-ed piece in the Houston Chronicle that the idea was a good one -- but bungled.

"This noble goal was sabotaged by a bungling execution. The department didn't get all the ads it paid to produce. In addition, the ad produced was placed in outlets that were unlikely to reach their intended targets; and the language for the task order was written so sloppily as to allow for the impression that Williams' public endorsement of the law as a commentator, as well as the ads his firm produced, would be helpful."

The contract was signed and carried out before Sec Spellings took the helm at the Education Department. (Houston Chronicle)

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