The Labor Department paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal stimulus funds to a public relations firm to run more than 100 commercials touting the Obama administration’s “green training” job efforts on two MSNBC cable shows, records show.
The commercials ran on MSNBC on shows hosted by Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann in 2009, but the contract didn’t report any jobs created, according to records reviewed recently by The Washington Times.
Spending reports under the federal Recovery Act show $495,000 paid to McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations LLC, which the Labor Department hired to raise awareness “among employers and influencers about the [Job Corps] program’s existing and new training initiatives in high growth and environmentally friendly career areas” as well as spreading the word to prospective Job Corps enrollees.
The firm ultimately negotiated ad buys for “two approved spots” airing 14 times per week for two months on “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” and “The Rachel Maddow Show,” according to a project report, which listed the number zero under a section of the report asking how many jobs had been created through the stimulus contract.
David Williams, president of the nonprofit watchdog Taxpayers Protection Alliance, called the contract “questionable” because it created no jobs and because of the placement of the ads on shows viewed as friendly to the administration’s policies.
“Hiring a PR firm does not create jobs, and this was obviously meant for selling a particular political agenda,” Mr. Williams said. “The placement really reeks of a political ad rather than a job ad, and taxpayers see through this.
“Taxpayers would be a lot happier at the end of the day to see a completed road rather than a bunch of ads on cable television,” he said.