White House Impeding Williams Investigation?

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The ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee said the White House is interfering with the Department of Education inspector general's investigation into conservative commentator Armstrong Williams' pay-for-play contract, which paid Williams $240,000 to promote its No Child Left Behind Policy.

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) has asked Inspector General Jack Higgins to hold off on issuing the report--Miller was briefed on a draft of the report this week--after Higgins informed him that new Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings may invoke privilege and require the IG to delete some information from the report.

According to Miller, Higgins also told him that the White House "had refused to allow them to interview White House officials who may have knowledge of the Williams contract."

Miller has sent letters to Spellings and White House Counsel Harriet Miers asking that Higgins be allowed to talk to "any current or former White House officials with information about the contract."

“The public’s right to know is absolutely more important than any claim of privilege that the White House or the Department of Education might make. The public has a right to all the facts about possible misconduct,” said Miller in a statement.

A DOE spokesperson had not returned calls at press time.

The FCC is currently holding a separate investigation into theWilliams contract and whether it violated commission payola prohibitions

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