Was There Pundit Payola at the Pentagon?

By: E&P Staff Will the next revelations about newspapers columnists paid by the government come out of the Pentagon? The Washington Times reports today that an in-house probe is underway at the Defense Department.

"I have no reason to believe there might be a problem, but in a department as large as ours, with decentralized decision-making and budget approval authorities, it seems appropriate to audit relevant contracts in a systematic manner," wrote chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita in a letter to Pentagon Inspector-General Joseph Schmitz, according to the newspaper's Bill Getz and Rowan Scarborough, who obtained a copy. "In light of recent press reports alleging that other departments of government have used public funds to pay journalists for various purposes, it seems prudent to review the use of Department of Defense funds that might possibly have led to such activity through department or non-DoD contracting activities."

In the letter, Di Rita said it would be "most helpful to review activities going back six to eight years," which would cover the second term of the Clinton administration.


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