Triple Trouble!

From Salon:
One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Salon has confirmed that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column, "Ethics & Religion," appears in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services to foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed.

Responding to the latest revelation, Dr. Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at HHS, announced Thursday that HHS would institute a new policy that forbids the agency from hiring any outside expert or consultant who has any working affiliation with the media. "I needed to draw this bright line," Horn tells Salon. "The policy is being implemented and we're moving forward."
Hmm. Is it me, or are there no lengths of unethical behavior to which this administration is willing to go…until they get caught? See, the problem is, Mr. Horn, that preventing the HHS from “hiring any outside expert or consultant who has any working affiliation with the media” shouldn’t need a new policy, because hiring outside experts or consultants who have working affiliations with the media is indicative of an attempt to buy endorsements of policies, as those endorsements might not otherwise be forthcoming, and that’s called propaganda, and there’s already a federal statute prohibiting it.
Horn says McManus, who could not be reached for comment, was paid approximately $10,000 for his work as a subcontractor to the Lewin Group, a health care consultancy hired by HHS to implement the Community Healthy Marriage Initiative, which encourages communities to combat divorce through education and counseling.


[O]ne HHS critic says another dynamic has led to the controversy, and a blurring of ethical and journalistic lines: Horn and HHS are hiring advocates -- not scholars -- from the pro-marriage movement. "They're ideological sympathizers who propagandize," says Tim Casey, attorney for Legal Momentum, a women's rights organization. He describes McManus as being a member of the "extreme religious right."

Horn denies the charge: "It's not true that we have just been selectively working with conservatives." According to news accounts, the administration seeks to spend $1.5 billion promoting marriage through marriage-enrichment courses, counseling and public-awareness campaigns.
Huh. Well, here’s another problem, Mr. Horn: I would bet everything in my right pocket that you couldn’t produce a liberal scholar who would generate the kind of advocatory material you sought on behalf of promoting marriage, particularly as this administration has inextricably linked “marriage promotion” to discrimination against gays and lesbians. But hey, if you can produce one, then you’ve just won yourself a Post-It note and a Band-Aid, you lucky dog.

Let the revelations roll.

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