Armstrong Williams Settles Over PR Contracts
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/24/2006 12:48:00 PM
Conservative radio commentator Armstrong Williams' Graham Williams Group has settled with the Justice Department and the Department of Education (DOE) for $90,000 over allegations his company billed the government for work but "failed to produce the deliverable" under a PR contract that came under heavy criticism as government-bought covert propaganda.
The government will turn around and pay the majority of that to Ketchum Communications ($56,000), the company that subcontracted out to Williams for "arranged-for public and media comment" on the Department of Education's No Child Left Behind initiative.
GWG did not admit any wrongdoing, and in fact says it still had claims for damages and unpaid money related to billings it did not collect from the last three months of the contract. However, "to avoid delay, uncertainty and inconvenience," struck the deal with Justice and DOE.
The settlement resulted from a DOE Inspector General investigation prompted by complaints about the contract, including from Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Education and Workforce Committee and one of the leading critics of the Department of Education's--$250,000--PR contract with Williams.
That investigation concluded that, aside from the issue of whether it was illegal, covert propaganda--the Government Accountability Office concluded it was--the contracts were severely mismanaged, with the result that the DOE paid for work that was not received, that "most likely" didn't reach its target audience and that was "of poor quality," DOE inspector general John P. Higgins concluded.
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