The report alleges that “Under one-party rule in 2009, the White House used the machinery of the Obama campaign to tout the President’s agenda through inappropriate and sometimes unlawful public relations and propaganda initiatives.”
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s exhaustive report contains enough information to warrant an official investigation, but Dems are likely to block that request so close to an election that already looks grim for corruptocrats. After the political tsunami that is in store for them in November, however, Issa will have subpoena power, and will be able to look into the 11 separate episodes where the report says the Obama administration abused taxpayer resources and, in some cases, violated federal law. The Daily Caller
Those include well-known flash points like expensive road signs touting economic progress under the economic stimulus law and an attempt in the early months of the administration to coordinate taxpayer-funded art to boost the president’s legislative priorities. (Michelle Malkin has covered the tax subsidized Porkulus signs, extensively – ed).
But it also includes a number of lesser-known episodes including a government-funded online web form allowing users to urge members of Congress to pass health care legislation and the shady online practices of a Justice Department spokeswoman.
One of the Obama administration’s more expensive “propaganda” efforts, according to the report, was a television commercial boosting the then-newly passed health care law. The advertisement features 84-year-old television star Andy Griffith and was designed to sell senior citizens, whom polls show are particularly opposed to ObamaCare, on the “good things [that] are coming” in the law.
“Free check ups, lower prescription costs, and better ways to protect us and Medicare from fraud . . . I think you’re gonna like it,” Griffith said in the ad. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the federal agency responsible for implementing the health care law, paid $700,000 for the commercial, the Issa report says.
Faced with controversy regarding the advertisement over the summer, an administration spokeswoman said it was necessary to ensure “seniors have the information they need.” The administration ended up yanking the ad, though.
Issa in the report charges that the advertisement was “purely partisan in nature” and thus violates federal law.
Another important instance cited by Issa’s report regarding the health care bill involves Jonathan Gruber, a noted health care expert who was revealed to be making hundreds of thousands of dollars from government contracts during the period he was authoring editorials in favor of the health care law and being cited by journalists for his health care expertise.
Gruber was paid by nearly $300,000 by HHS for “technical assistance” as a consultant on estimating the economic impact of the health care law. Gruber did not disclose his government contracts when discussing the health care law with numerous journalists. Articles that relied on Gruber’s testimony and were favorable to the health care law were promoted vigorously by the president himself.
Another episode cataloged by the Issa report involves a Justice Department spokeswoman, Tracy Russo, who reportedly surreptitiously authored comments on blogs, online forums and other online media. The Issa report notes that in repeated instances, the Government Accountability Office has ruled that failure to disclose the hand of the government behind public communications constitutes “covert propaganda” and is unlawful.
Issa also specified repeated efforts by the Obama White House to transform the federal bureaucracy into the propaganda arm of the Obama White House.
More from the report, excerpted at Hot Air:
On the morning of April 24, 2009, U.S. Department of Education (DoEd) Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs and Outreach Massie Ritsch distributed an e-mail to colleagues notifying them of President Obama’s intention to promote his Direct Loan student financial aid program during a meeting later that day. Ritsch explained the rationale for the President’s timing by noting that Congress was beginning to work to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of the Fiscal Year 2010 Concurrent Budget Resolution.
The stated purpose of the e-mail was to help recipients “communicate the merits of the President’s proposal with your members and other audiences….” To help recipients do so, Ritsch attached a two-page white paper to the body of the e-mail message. The document included promotional information highlighting DoEd’s reasons for supporting the President’s plan.
In March 2010, media reports surfaced that revealed White House Office for Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle sent overtly partisan, unsolicited health reform e-mails to career civil servants in Executive Branch agencies. The DeParle e-mails were not transmitted by the ordinary official White House staff e-mail handle “who.eop.gov” but through the mass mailing handle “messages.whitehouse.gov.”
At least three emails were objectionable: 1) an e-mail dated March 11, 2010 that begins with the line: “625 – that’s the number who lost health insurance every hour in 2009;” 2) an e-mail dated March 12, 2010 railing against the perils of “do[ing] nothing to reform our broken health care system;” and 3) a March 16, 2010, e-mail subject line: “There but for the grace of God go any one of us.”66
The worst abuse of propaganda is directly connected to the White House. BarackObama.com, run by the Democratic National Committee, has been featured during the president’s speeches. It has been used by the administration and the DNC as a mechanism to lobby Congress, again apparently illegally, and to use the president’s high profile to solicit funds for the DNC as part of what has been mocked by some as the president’s “permanent campaign.” Additional efforts by First Lady Michelle Obama, detailed in the report’s reporting on the “iParticipate” initiative, find that the administration skirted the Hatch Act and and federal anti-lobbying laws by using Mrs. Obama to support the presidents social and health care agendas with $240 million worth of free advertising.
Also highlighted is the administration’s shocking use of the National Endowment For The Arts as a propaganda tool, an effort that was exposed last year by Breitbart’s Big Hollywood.
The report states:
On August 6, 2009, on behalf of the White House Office of Public Engagement, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)32 Communications Director Yosi Sergant
invited a group of “artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, tastemakers, leaders, or just plain cool people” to participate in a conference call.
The specific purpose of the call was to allow the White House Office of Public Engagement to encourage the art community’s involvement in the President’s United We Serve program. United We Serve is designed to support four key components of the President’s recovery agenda through national service – health care, energy independence, education and community and economic renewal. The call took place on August 10, 2009. Participants were informed that the call was
part of an effort to engage the art and entertainment community in a “brand new conversation … to really bring this community together to speak with the
government.” In addition to Sergant, call participants heard from Nell Abernathy, Director of Outreach for United We Serve, and Buffy Wicks, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.36 In their official capacities as representatives of agencies of the United States government and of the White House itself, Abernathy
and Wicks urged approximately 75 members of the art and entertainment community to promote the President’s agenda by creating art consistent with the goals of United
What made the administration think it could get away with all these abuses?
Things are going to get very interesting next year.
Linked by Michelle Malkin in Buzzworthy, thanks!