US Commission on Civil Rights to end relationship with PR agency

WASHINGTON: The US Commission on Civil Rights, which has relied on PR firm McKinney and Associates as its de facto AOR since 2000, will end its relationship at the end of this fiscal year, according to the commission's chairman, Gerald Reynolds.

WASHINGTON: The US Commission on Civil Rights, which has relied on PR firm McKinney and Associates as its de facto AOR since 2000, will end its relationship at the end of this fiscal year, according to the commission's chairman, Gerald Reynolds.

Reynolds said the contracts have not been cost-effective and that he will instead focus on building an in-house public affairs staff - something the commission has previously lacked.

"To the extent we can use people on the payroll to perform [PR functions], we will save money and avoid costs," Reynolds said.

Gwendolyn McKinney said her firm was able to assist the commission because [the latter] didn't have a "competent" public affairs staff to get a public presence.

By estimates from McKinney, as well as documents provided by the commission and Government Accountability Office, the body contracted more than half a million dollars with McKinney & Associates since 2000.

Critics have raised questions about the contract based on the rarity of such commissions hiring PR firms and the fact that McKinney also did publicity work for a book by former commission chairwoman Mary Frances Berry in 1999.

McKinney, who said she has known Berry for 20 years, said that work on the book was completed by the time the commission contracts began in 2000.

Both women told PRWeek that their relationship had no influence on the commission's hiring of McKinney, though McKinney said that her work with Berry made her a qualified candidate to represent the commission. Berry said that all contracts were executed by Les Jin, the commission's former staff director. Jin could not be located for comment.

Berry said that all contracts were executed by Les Jin, the commission's former staff director. Jin could not be located for comment.

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