Senators seek criminal investigation into Williams-DoE contract

WASHINGTON: The fallout from the Government Accountability Office's recent report on the Department of Education's (DoE) contract with Ketchum and Armstrong Williams has spilled over into the Department of Justice.

WASHINGTON: The fallout from the Government Accountability Office's recent report on the Department of Education's (DoE) contract with Ketchum and Armstrong Williams has spilled over into the Department of Justice.

Four Democratic senators have requested a criminal investigation into the contract because of Williams' failure to perform all the duties outlined in the agreement.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), John Kerry (D-MA), and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), cited information in the recent report as basis for an investigation.

The report revealed that the DoE could not produce any evidence that Williams completed the 167 activities stipulated by his contract. In a recent USA Today article, Williams indicated he was in negotiations to return a portion of the money because he did not fulfill his contractual obligations.

The DoE declined to comment for this article.

In a statement, Ketchum said it respected the senators' decision to request an investigation. It also stressed that the firm had been directed by the DoE to hire Williams for minority outreach.

The matter could also influence the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation hearings, as Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has indicated that nominee Harriet Miers may have had a role in the affair as White House counsel.

"The White House counsel's office oversees ethical advice to White House staff and the administration generally," said David Carle, Leahy's press secretary. "The questions are: What was her role? What was her advice?"

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