Congressman charges White House with publishing 'propaganda' on Recovery.gov

California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa asks GAO to investigate

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California is accusing the Obama administration of misusing federal Web sites to advance President Barack Obama’s political agenda.

Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a 37-page report on Aug. 16 on “Public Relations and Propaganda Initiatives” in the first year of the administration. In the report, he alleges that Recovery.gov and other federal agency Web sites inappropriately promote presidential policies and provide “misleading information.” Some of these alleged infractions occurred as part of Obama’s transparency and open government agenda, Issa writes.

Issa urged the Government Accountability Office to investigate the administration’s use of federal Web sites such as Recovery.gov to determine whether any laws have been violated.

“The president’s right to sell his policy recommendations to Congress and the public is not disputed,” Issa wrote. “However, using the resources of the federal government to activate a sophisticated propaganda and lobbying campaign is an abuse of office.”


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“Instead of facilitating openness, the public relations and propaganda activities of the White House have had precisely the opposite effect,” Issa wrote.

White House and Recovery.gov officials were not immediately available to comment on the report.

For example, with Recovery.gov, which publishes updates on economic stimulus law spending, Issa refers to the “Recovery-funded jobs reported by recipients” as misleading and covert propaganda. Issa quotes from newspaper reports finding that approximately 10 percent of the jobs were reported erroneously or did not exist.

Although Issa accuses the Obama administration of propaganda activities, he also acknowledges that the Obama administration has spent much less on publicity than did the George W. Bush administration.

The Bush administration spent a peak of $161 million on publicity in 2003, and between $87 million and $91 million each year from 2004 through 2006, and $57 million and $61 million in 2007 and 2008, respectively. The Obama administration spent $66 million on such activities in 2009, Issa's report said.

 

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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