Trump Administration Tried To Use $250M To Help Trump Campaign Rebrand Pandemic

Screengrab / @TheLead / CNN

JakeThomas

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee were able to pause the efforts.

Documents obtained by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee reveal that the Trump administration’s $250 million ad campaign for rebranding the coronavirus pandemic was meant in part to help President Trump’s reelection campaign.

  • Michael Caputo, the former Department of Health and Human Services’ top spokesperson, reportedly “sought to frame the taxpayer-funded ad campaign as a way to boost the president’s chances of reelection,” CNN’s Jake Tapper reported.
  • Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) said the Trump administration “tried to use $250 million of taxpayer money that was otherwise dedicated at the CDC for education related purposes to deal with the COVID pandemic” to help Trump’s campaign.
  • Krishnamoorthi continued: “They also compiled a Joseph McCarthy-esque list of celebrities — 274 of them — and evaluated them based on their political preferences. … Something I’ve never seen in a government contract.”
  • The ads were not meant to encourage mask-wearing or social distancing, Krishnamoorthi said, “but rather to promote the theme, ‘Helping the President Will Help the Country,’” which he noted is a slogan one might see in the former Soviet Union.
  • Krishnamoorthi said celebrities being considered for a public service announcement would normally be evaluated based on their ability to reach a target audience, not for their political views or whether they support the president.
  • Democrats have also accused HHS Secretary Alex Azar of trying to cover up the scheme, because he refused to turn over documents they requested in early Sept. Instead, they obtained documents from the contractors.
  • “Now we know why Secretary Azar did not produce the documents. Because they have such inappropriate material in them, that I don’t think they wanted to turn those over to us,” Krishnamoorthi said.
  • Krishnamoorthi said they were able to stop the ad campaign in its tracks but that the contract is still active.

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