HoustonChronicle.com - Bush tells Cabinet not to hire columnists
WASHINGTON — President Bush today ordered his Cabinet secretaries not to hire columnists to promote their agendas after disclosure that a second writer was paid to tout an administration initiative.
The president said he expects his agency heads will "make sure that that practice doesn't go forward."
"All our Cabinet secretaries must realize that we will not be paying commentators to advance our agenda. Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet," Bush said at a news conference.
Bush's remarks came a day after syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher apologized to readers for not disclosing a $21,500 contract with the Health and Human Services Department to help create materials promoting the agency's $300 million initiative to encourage marriage.
Bush also said the White House had been unaware that the Education Department paid commentator and columnist Armstrong Williams $240,000 to plug its policies. That contract came to light two weeks ago.
Bush said there "needs to be a nice independent relationship between the White House and the press, the administration and the press."