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Harkin Wants to See Fed Ad Budgets

If Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin has his way, the Bush administration will have to tell Congress when it spends money on ads to promote its policies.

Harkin plans to introduce a bill requiring all federal agencies to report their ad budgets to Congress and to include a disclosure in those ads that the spot is being paid for with taxpayer money.

The move stems from the Armstrong Williams debacle, in which the conservative radio and TV commentator admitted he had a $240,000 deal with the administration to promote its No Child Left Behind education policy.

Williams has said it was strictly an ad campaign, but USA Today found language in the contract suggesting he was also supposed to promote No Child Left Behind in his commentary, which he has said he would have done anyway.

The administration has been criticized for a number of pay-for-play deals, including video news releases promoting drug and health policies.