And the beat goes on:
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.The story also states that Horn has"asked his staff to review all outside contracts and determine if there were any other columnists being paid by HHS," and that"the review for similar contracts continues."
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."
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. McManus provided training during two-day conferences in Chattanooga, Tenn., and also made presentations at HHS-sponsored conferences. His syndicated column has appeared in such papers as the Washington Times, the Dallas Morning News and the Charlotte Observer.
What truly kills me is that these are the"moral values" people. Which would be very funny -- except for the fact that THEY'RE RUNNING THE DAMNED COUNTRY.
Excuse me now, while I beat myself unconscious. Wait, I think that's Andrew Sullivan's line...
(Related thoughts about Maggie Gallagher's pay-for-play and her congressional testimonyhere. It also turns out that Gallagher was an unwed mother, which she of course now says is a very, very bad thing. I'm still trying to figure out exactly which"moral values" they're talking about, and when and to whom they apply...)