WASHINGTON -- Investigators at the Education Department have contacted the US attorney's office regarding the Bush administration's hiring of commentator Armstrong Williams to promote its agenda.
The action was disclosed by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, who has pressed for a criminal fraud investigation focused on questions about whether Williams actually performed the work cited in his monthly reports to the Education Department.
The Government Accountability Office has concluded that the Education Department engaged in illegal ''covert propaganda" by hiring Williams to promote the No Child Left Behind Act without requiring him to disclose that he was being paid.
Now the US attorney for the District of Columbia is investigating whether Williams accepted public money without performing his required duties, said Dan Katz, chief counsel for Lautenberg. The attorney's office has a range of potential remedies, from suing to recover the money to possible criminal charges, Katz said.