Issa Asks GAO to Investigate Obama Administration Propaganda Abuses

August 16, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Darrell Issa today requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate the legality of taxpayer funded propaganda efforts undertaken by the Obama Administration.  GAO has investigated accusations of covert propaganda under previous Administrations and found them unlawful.

“Although Federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars for covert propaganda, Administrations of both political parties have faced criticism and investigations related to abuses,” said Issa.  “Using new technologies and the remnants of the most expensive Presidential campaign in history, the Obama Administration’s use of taxpayer dollars to engage in covert propaganda is disconcerting.  This new report and a GAO investigation are needed to help shed light on how taxpayer dollars are being spent to illegally further a political agenda.”

Issa’s request to investigate programs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) follows the release of a new Oversight and Government Reform Committee report being sent to GAO that examines numerous instances of propaganda undertaken by Obama Administration officials. The report concludes that the Administration has “initiated several public relations programs that violate various prohibitions on federally financed propaganda” and also finds the White House has failed “to transition from campaign-mode to leadership-mode and is now inappropriately leveraging those campaign-trail relationships to unlawfully generate support for the President’s agenda.”

Highlights of the Oversight Committee Republican Report include:

    • Use of the National Endowment for the Arts as a de facto strategic communications firm for the Obama Administration.  During an August 10, 2009 conference call, White House staff urged members of the arts and entertainment community to support the President’s United We Serve campaign and broader agenda, citing as models art and music created to support then-candidate Obama’s presidential campaign.  Three days after the call, 21 arts groups signed a press release endorsing the President’s health care plan. (Pg. 9)
    • Use of HHS web resources to push citizens to lobby Members of Congress in support of the President’s health care plan.  A link from www.HealthReform.gov, maintained by HHS, asks visitors to sign a form letter to President Obama stating their commitment to work with him and “our Congressional leaders” to enact the President’s health care plan.  (Pg. 18)
    • Use of taxpayer money to post road signs touting both “stimulus” spending and www.Recovery.gov.  Officials at the Federal Highway Administration “strongly encouraged” stimulus grant recipients to post Obama Administration-approved promotional signs which, in some cases, direct the viewer towww.Recovery.gov, itself chock-full of thinly veiled propaganda in support of White House claims of stimulus job creation success.  (Pg. 24)
  • The efforts of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) to support pro-Obama healthcare reform volunteerism and its efforts to “organically” incorporate stories about service and volunteerism into programming on all four major networks and many cable outlets. (Pg. 28)

Click here for the Report on Obama Administration propaganda

Click here for Rep. Issa’s letter to the GAO requesting an investigation

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