By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
As far as the stimulus package is concerned, President Barack Obama has a lot to answer for. Federal records show that nearly $6 million was provided to firms controlled by Mark Penn, a former senior adviser and pollster to Hillary Rodham Clinton. The funds, which records show helped preserve three jobs at public relations giant Burson-Marsteller, The Hill reported Wednesday, paid for work on a public relations campaign to advertise the national switch to digital television and for polling work by Penn's firm, Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates.
The news has Republicans on Capitol Hill, who are already unhappy with the way the stimulus dollars have been distributed, absolutely up in arms. Several of them, led by South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson, are seeking support from the White House and their congressional colleagues for a bipartisan national commission to investigate how the stimulus money was spent, where it went, and how many jobs the stimulus actually saved or created, the website created for that purpose having failed to do its job.
Wilson sent a letter to Obama announcing his intention, if the president did not act on his own by Dec. 1, 2009, to call for an outside, independent examination of spending and reporting inaccuracies of every stimulus dollar appropriated—and was rebuffed.
"The reality of the situation is that Recovery.gov, the official administration website charged with reporting abuse, was its own worst offender," Wilson said Wednesday. "It is full of fake stimulus jobs in fake congressional districts. The Government Accountability Office says that one out of every 10 jobs created by the stimulus are also fake."
Under the Wilson plan, the commission would, following a thorough investigation, make recommendations as to what changes could be made to save or create more jobs and what steps could be taken to prevent the improper allocation of taxpayer dollars.