A member of the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday the agency should investigate whether conservative commentator Armstrong Williams broke the law by failing to disclose that the Bush administration paid him $240,000 to plug its education policies.
Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, a Democrat, said the agency has received about a dozen complaints against Williams.
"I certainly hope the FCC will take action and fully investigate whether any laws have been broken," Adelstein said at the commission's regular monthly meeting.
None of the other commissioners responded to his statement during the meeting. Afterward, both FCC Chairman Michael Powell, a Republican, and David Solomon, who heads the agency's enforcement bureau, declined to comment.
Generally, the FCC reviews letters and complaints before determining if there should be an investigation. Powell said he had not seen the complaints filed against Williams.
Adelstein wants the FCC to look into whether Williams violated federal telecommunication law that requires disclosure of any payment or gift for airing any material for broadcast, like a radio disc jockey being paid to play a particular recording.
Williams, a nationally syndicated radio, print and television personality, was paid by the Education Department to promote the No Child Left Behind Act. The contract required Williams' company to produce radio and TV ads that promote the controversial law and feature one-minute "reads" by Education Secretary Rod Paige. The deal also allowed Paige and other department officials to appear as studio guests with Williams.
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