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Lawmakers Pressure White House Over ‘Covert Propaganda’

Jan 7, 2005  •  Post A Comment

A coalition of House Democrats led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Friday asked President Bush to crack down on efforts by federal executive agencies to covertly influence public opinion.

In a Jan. 7 letter, the Democrats said a USA Today report alleging that the Department of Education paid conservative TV pundit Armstrong Williams $240,000 to promote the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind initiative on air — along with General Accountability Office reports contending that the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Department of Health and Human Services have promoted administration projects with video news releases without adequate disclosure — could be construed as indicating the administration is engaged in illegal propaganda.

“We ask you to publicly renounce the use of covert propaganda to influence public opinion,” the Democrats said.

The Democrats also asked President Bush to direct “all department and agency heads to immediately provide to us all past and ongoing efforts to engage in covert propaganda, whether through contracts with commentators, the distribution of video news releases or other means.”

The White House did not return calls Friday requesting comment.