Payola Pundit Armstrong Williams Pays Back $34,000

Armstrong WilliamsConservative commentator Armstrong Williams will pay $34,000 as part of a settlement of a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into possible breaches of his contract with the U.S. Department of Education. Williams admits no wrongdoing and will not face charges. Under a $240,000 sub-contract to the PR firm Ketchum, Williams agreed to promote the department's No Child Left Behind Act and, through his contacts in the journalists group America's Black Forum, encourage others to do likewise. The DOJ investigation was into whether Williams was paid for radio and television ads that he didn't produce. Williams' November 2003 contract was negotiated during the term of former Education Secretary Rod Paige. The contract was terminated in early 2005, after USA Today reported on it. The paper had received a copy of Williams' contract through a Freedom of Information Act request. Williams is a partner in a Washington DC PR firm, the Graham Williams Group. Last year, the Government Accountability Office ruled that several aspects of Ketchum's work for the Education Department violated federal law.