NPR hires firm to lobby for its taxpayer funding

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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National Public Radio (NPR) is paying the lobbying firm Bracy, Tucker, Brown & Valanzano to defend its taxpayer funding stream in Congress, according to lobbying disclosure forms filed with the Secretary of the Senate. The taxpayer-funded radio network hired the firm in the second quarter of 2011 to work on issues regarding “funding for NPR and affiliate stations.”

It will remain unclear how much NPR is paying for these lobbying services until second quarter lobbying forms are filed. But before NPR hired the firm to represent it on funding issues, the network spent $131,666 in 2011’s first quarter on an in-house lobbyist.

NPR’s hiring of the lobbying firm comes in the wake of a public debate over whether the network should continue to receive taxpayer funds. Shortly after NPR was subjected to public humiliation due to the release of conservative Project Veritas’s sting videos, House Republicans voted to take away the network’s taxpayer funding in March. (The Senate, however, never passed a similar measure to defund NPR.)

In the Project Veritas videos, now-former NPR nonprofit foundation President Ron Schiller told people who he thought were representatives from a Muslim Brotherhood front group looking to donate $5 million to the network that NPR would be “better off” in the long term without taxpayer subsidies. He also attacked the Tea Party as racist and suggested that Jews control America’s newspapers.

NPR’s hiring of a lobbying firm to preserve its funding has riled some of the network’s critics.

“It’s astonishing that at [a] time we are looking to get a grip on out-of-control Washington spending, NPR is using hard earned tax dollars to pay for a lobbyist to extract more tax dollars,” Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer said in an email to The Daily Caller.

Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado, who is among those leading the charge to defund NPR, told TheDC NPR’s new lobbying campaign won’t help them out in Congress.

“NPR’s misguided attempt to buy goodwill on the Hill will go nowhere,” Lamborn said in an e-mail to TheDC. “The simple truth is, our government is broke and the gravy train has run out of steam. NPR ought to focus its efforts on replacing federal revenues with private donations.”

Michael Bracy, who will be the lobbyist representing NPR, told TheDC his pitch on Capitol Hill isn’t going to focus on NPR’s news and opinion content, only its music. “I think it’s safe to say some policymakers aren’t always up to date on how the music industry is working in the marketplace,” Bracy said. “We’re just making sure that musicians, independent record labels and others who [provide music content to NPR] have their policymakers and delegation end up knowing how they work with NPR and public radio stations.”

Bracy refused to say how much NPR’s contract with his firm is worth. NPR did not return TheDC’s requests for comment.