Propaganda Machine: Obama’s army of PR staffers costs taxpayers $500 million per year
President Obama hired hundreds of additional public relations employees to sell his administration’s policies, at a total cost to taxpayers of nearly half a billion dollars a year, the government’s chief watchdog reported Wednesday.
Mr. Obama added some 667 PR staffers between 2008, the last full year under his predecessor, and 2011, when staffing levels peaked at 5,238 — a spike of 15 percent during those years. The number has since slipped, but there were still nearly 5,100 PR staffers in the administration in 2014, according to figures from the Government Accountability Office.
That doesn’t include the more than $100 million spent each year to hire private spinmeisters to supplement the government’s PR efforts. And yet more money — nearly $800 million in 2015 — is spent each year on contracts with outside advertising firms hired to prop up the administration’s policies.
“With increasing pressures on limited federal resources, it is crucial to know how much is spent across the federal government on public relations activities and which federal agencies are spending the most,” said Sen. Mike Enzi, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who requested the report.
The Pentagon led the way in PR staffing, with more than 2,100 employees assigned to the massive bureaucracy as of 2014. The Interior Department, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services and Homeland Security also saw big increases in PR personnel over the last decade.
On the other side are Social Security, the Transportation and Labor departments and the National Science Foundation, each of which are facing their smallest PR staffing in a decade.
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