Gruber said after his contracts were revealed that he “never intentionally withheld [his] two HHS contracts from Congress or the media.”
The Issa report compares Gruber’s $300,000 in government contracts to an instance in the Bush administration when the Department of Education paid columnist Armstrong Williams $240,000 to advocate the “No Child Left Behind” legislation.
When it was revealed Williams was receiving taxpayer funds, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decried the “underhanded” tactics, saying it was “not worthy of our great democracy,” the Issa report notes.
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.
Faced with the charges in October 2009, the Justice Department denied it had a “blog squad” and said its policy is not to comment on blogs or other online media anonymously, according to the Washington Times.