The U.S. attorney’s office in Washington is investigating the public relations arrangement between the Department of Education and commentator Armstrong Williams, according to a senator who requested the inquiry.
The federal prosecutor’s office is investigating whether Mr. Williams was paid for work that he did not perform under a contract to promote the No Child Left Behind Act, according to an Oct. 14 release from the office of Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J. The prosecutor’s office confirmed to The Washington Post that it was investigating the matter, but had no further comment.
Through a contract with a larger public relations firm, Mr. Williams was paid to promote the school accountability law in 2003 and 2004, though he did not acknowledge the contract in newspaper columns he wrote on the issue or when he was interviewed on cable TV news programs.
The arrangement between Mr. Williams and the Education Department, which caused a major stir when it became public earlier this year, has also been investigated by the department’s inspector general’s office and the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. The GAO found earlier this month the department violated federal law because Mr. Williams’ work constituted covert propaganda. (“GAO: Armstrong Williams PR Contract Violated Law,” Oct. 12, 2005.)
Through a spokesperson, Mr. Williams told the Post that he had no comment on the investigation.
A version of this article appeared in the October 26, 2005 edition of Education Week