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3rd columnist paid by HHS to tout policy
WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services yesterday said that a third conservative columnist was paid to promote a Bush administration policy.
Mike McManus, whose column appears in about 50 newspapers, received $10,000 to train marriage counselors as part of the agency's initiative promoting marriage, said Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families.
The disclosure, first reported by USA Today, came as the Government Accountability Office sent a letter to the Education Department yesterday asking for all materials related to its contract dealings with Armstrong Williams, a prominent media commentator who produced ads that promoted President Bush's No Child Left Behind law. The contract also committed Williams, who is black, to provide media access for former Education Secretary Rod Paige and to persuade other black journalists to talk about the law.
Federal law bans the use of public money on propaganda.
McManus was hired by the Lewin Group, which had an HHS contract to support community-based programs. He has written supportively about the HHS marriage initiative in many columns since the consulting work began in January 2003. He declined comment.
Bush this week ordered Cabinet secretaries not to hire columnists to promote administration agendas. The declaration was prompted by reports that Williams and columnist Maggie Gallagher had been paid by the administration, the latter to create materials promoting the marriage initiative.
All three columnists failed to disclose to their readers their relationships with the administration.
Rice takes oath again at State DepartmentCondoleezza Rice took the oath as secretary of state — a second time — with President Bush's assurance to the world that she will lead by "character and conviction and wisdom."
Rice pledged to use diplomacy to widen the community of democracy. "You have given us our mission, and we are ready to serve our great country and the cause of freedom for which it stands," she said.
It was her second swearing-in. The first was in a private ceremony at the White House on Wednesday with White House chief of staff Andrew Card officiating.
Harold Ickes, a leading Democratic activist and former aide to President Clinton, said yesterday he is backing Howard Dean to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee — giving a powerful boost to the front-runner.
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