This time it is the Department of Health and Human Services who has paid a journalist to write favorably for them, and the journalist [sic] is Maggie Gallagher of National Review Online. Here's the Washington Post lead slug:
In 2002, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher repeatedly defended President Bush's push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families.
"The Bush marriage initiative would emphasize the importance of marriage to poor couples" and "educate teens on the value of delaying childbearing until marriage," she wrote in National Review Online, for example, adding that this could "carry big payoffs down the road for taxpayers and children."
But Gallagher failed to mention that she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president's proposal. Her work under the contract, which ran from January through October 2002, included drafting a magazine article for the HHS official overseeing the initiative, writing brochures for the program and conducting a briefing for department officials.
Let's all remember, folks, that the White House claimed that the Armstrong Williams incident was "isolated," and Scott McClellan claimed that he knew of no other arrangement like that with Williams. Sounds like making sure he staked his claim to deniability beforehand.
Maggie defended herself, of course. She may be a "defender of marriage," as she might put it, but she shows herself to also be a defender of unethical behavior. The National Review ought to distance themselves now and also call their folks in for a meeting -- odds are they have a couple more folks on the Bush payroll.