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Monday, March 19, 2007


White House uses big PR firms to kill stories on small business

American Small Business League President Lloyd Chapman says he believes the Bush administration’s expenditure of over $50 million a month to some of the nation’s largest public relations firms is hampering his efforts to expose billions in fraud and abuse in federal small business contracting programs.

“White House PR firms have been working overtime to kill stories on Bush administration policies that have diverted over $300 billion in federal small business contracts to the top 2 percent of U.S. firms,” Chapman said.

A 2006 Office of Government Accountability report found the Bush administration had spent $1.6 billion over 30 months on public relations campaigns and advertising. In some cases, journalists like Armstrong Williams were paid as much as $240,000 to promote pro-Bush administration policy and pass it off as unbiased opinion.

Chapman points to a pattern over the last few years wherein newspapers, magazines and even some of the largest television networks drop his story once Bush administration officials were notified.

NBC spent a week in California filming a story on Chapman and his successful legal battle to stop the Bush administration from diverting billions in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms, but the story never aired. CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight spent a month researching and filming a story on Chapman and his organization, but pulled the story just hours before it was supposed to air. When the story finally aired six months later, any mention of Chapman and the American Small Business League had been deleted. CBS spent weeks working with Chapman and his staff on what would have been CBS’s third installment in a series of investigative reports on the diversion of billions in federal small business contracts to firms like Rolls Royce, Wal-Mart, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The story was suddenly halted after the SBA found out about the piece.

After spending months working with the New York Times on a story, any mention of Chapman and his group was removed from the story after it was written.

“After the New York Times story, I was contacted by the Los Angeles Times. They wanted to do a story on my campaign to stop fraud and abuse in federal small business contracting,” Chapman said. “I told the reporter if she mentioned me in the story, my name would be removed before the story ran, but she laughed. She called me the day the story ran, very upset, and told me her editor removed all references to me in the story.”

Chapman says he believes other publications have suddenly dropped their stories on this issue after being pressured by White House public relations firms, including the Associated Press, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News, BusinessWeek, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Fortune Small Business and dozens of other smaller newspapers and magazines around the country.

“We intend to use the Freedom of Information Act to uncover more information on exactly how PR firms working for the Bush administration are able to exert so much pressure on the media,” Chapman said. “I would like to see Rep. Henry Waxman hold hearings into why the Bush administration needs to spend $50 million a month on PR firms and exactly what those firms are involved in.”

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