My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘media’

New Information: The DraftFCB $200 Million Scandal

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Editor’s Note: There have never been criminal charges brought against Boschetto, and MyTwoCensus does not claim to have any knowledge about his guilt or innocence. The suit linked to below makes allegations but does not provide supporting evidence to support its claims.

Editor’s Update: Today, Jim Edwards of BNet writes of the Boschetto case:

A federal judge dismissed the case in February 2007, fined the lawyer who filed it $8,000, and ordered him not to bring it again. (He appealed.) The judge also noted that Boschetto was never served in the case — even though he’s a named defendant — and that the complaint was littered with errors, including the plagiarism of several passages from other suits that were also dismissed. The judge wrote, “This intent to humiliate and embarrass is further manifested in the amended complaint which is littered with wholly irrelevant, inflammatory, and embarrassing facts concerning defendants and non-defendants alike that have no bearing on the actions brought…”

The mid 2000s were tumultuous times for DraftFCB.   Wal-Mart pulled out of their $580-million deal with the firm when, in December 2006, Wal-Mart fired two marketing executives who had helped procure the DraftFCB  contract, alleging that the executives had accepted gifts from the agencies under consideration when making their decision to hire DraftFCB.

These problems were further compounded when, in February 2006, DraftFCB’s CEO Laurence Boschetto, was accused of sexual abuse (read the court documents by clicking here) in bizarre incidents related to the Catholic Church abuse scandals. According to the attorney who filed this lawsuit (whom MyTwoCensus spoke with today), this case is still pending in the New York State Supreme Court and Boschetto has never refuted the charges by saying he didn’t commit the crimes (Purportedly, he has only stated that the statute of limitations in this case has expired).

None of these factors prevented the US Census Bureau from thinking that this was the ideal company to carry out its ad/media campaigns for the 2010 Census. DraftFCB was publicly announced as the winning firm in August 2007. Ostensibly the bidding/selection process for this $200 million contract took place while the firm was in the news for its less than positive dealings, which makes one wonder why they were selected over companies that weren’t plagued by scandals. As the Wal-Mart example shows, DraftFCB has no problem providing kickbacks for people to gain contracts.

MyTwoCensus is seriously concerned about the nature of how this contract was awarded and we are seeking information about the bidding process, proposals of other firms, and the high likelihood that Washington power-brokers had an unethical (if not illegal) influence on this bidding process. Unfortunately, we are unable to place an FOIA request to determine the nature of other companies’ proposals and bids due to legal restrictions, but we urge our readers who work for the IG, GAO, or Congress to gather this data.

UPDATE: MyTwoCensus Investigation: Scammers Running The 2010 Census Ad Campaign

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

UPDATE: MyTwoCensus has been informed that Jay Waite, deputy director of the US Census Bureau, was also involved in procuring these contracts. According to his biography, “Waite is the visionary and architect of the 2010 reengineered census. Using hand-held computers for data collection, a major expansion of technology, will dramatically change the way censuses will be conducted for decades to come.”

Well, what scandal have we stumbled upon this time?

Upon doing some further research into DraftFCB’s massive $200 million advertising/media contract with the Census Bureau, I learned that this firm’s parent company, Interpublic Group was forced to pay a $12 million fine to the SEC for accounting fraud in 2008 and also owns a 49% stake in GlobalHue, an ethnic media PR firm that has been assigned to do the Latino/African-American outreach for the 2010 Census. But back in March of this year, GlobalHue was accused of overbilling the Bermudan government by $1.8 million on a $13 million contract. The Bermudans claim that GlobalHue:

    • Overbilled the account by $1.8 million.
    • Prebilled the government in violation of its own rules.
    • Didn’t keep invoices and billing records.
    • Didn’t return discounts and credits to the client.
    • Used a media buyer, Cornerstone, that charged commissions of  up to 181 percent.

    Have similar problems been going on in America with little oversight? Maybe the GAO and IG’s offices will soon let us know! (For now, click here to download the original accusations from Bermuda. H/t to Jim Edwards of BNET for providing these docs.)

    An confidential source informed MyTwoCensus that New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s office had quite the hand in procuring this contract for DraftFCB/Interpublic Group/GlobalHue (ironically she accused the Bush administration of trying to sabotage the 2010 Census), so tomorrow we’re going to give them a call to learn more information. Additionally, Steven J. Jost, the Census Bureau’s new Communications Director (he also served in this role when Ken Prewitt ran the Census Bureau during the later Clinton years), has significant ties to Maloney’s office.

    MyTwoCensus has a pending FOIA request to obtain the details of these contracts.

    *As this is an ongoing investigation, MyTwoCensus asks for any individual with further information about this case to please come forward. We remind our readers that we maintain  full confidentiality with our sources in all circumstances.

Your Tax Dollars At Work: The Census Bureau Is America’s New Favorite Charity

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Thanks to The Big Spring Herald in Big Spring, Texas for the following story:

Long: Census request ‘double taxing’

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

By THOMAS JENKINS
Staff Writer


Go back to the federal government and ask for funding.

That’s the message Howard County Commissioner Jimmie Long delivered to representatives of the 2010 Census Monday morning during the court’s meeting, following a request for a $5,000 donation to help fund the nationwide head count.

“Taxpayers have already been taxed to provide funding for the Census once,” said County Commissioner for Precinct 3 Jimmie Long. “That was done through our federal income tax. I feel like the government is trying to force our local residents to put pressure on the local entities to fund something that has already been funded. I agree that you need to have publicity, and they need to fund that. They need to consider that as a part of the cost.”

Charlene Romero McBride, partnership specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce Census Bureau, said the $5,000 is an investment in the community.

“Nationally, the 2010 Census will go ahead with a marketing plan. Unfortunately, it starts dwindling down for our smaller counties,” said McBride. “It doesn’t go to the radio stations, it doesn’t go to the newspapers. It provides us with some marketing items, but not a whole lot. I have 18 counties that I’m working with, and only the two largest counties in that area have their own funds, so I don’t do any of this with them.

“This is an investment in the community. What happens is you’re assisting the Complete Count Committee and help to get the word out. We go out and explain to people what the census does and how important it is. In the end, this helps your non-profit organizations, hospitals, police departments, fire departments… It all comes back to you by the numbers we get in the census.”

McBride said she’s not looking for a check from the commissioners now, just for the county to set aside the money in case it’s needed.

“We’re not saying that we want you to sign a check and give it to us. What we’re asking you to do is go ahead and set aside funds so once we start getting the promotional items we need, it just gets taken out of that (money),” said McBride. “So we might not use the whole amount. We’ve asked Coahoma to consider giving us $1,000, and we did receive $500 from Forsan last week. And we’re also going to ask the city to match whatever the county decides to do for the Complete Count Committee as well. Everyone is investing in this. Everyone is really going in and making sure we do provide the tools for the Complete Count Committee.”

Long, who chided the federal census for asking for funding alongside Precinct  2 Commissioner Jerry Kilgore, said he supports the effort, but feels like it needs to be funded solely by the federal government.

“I support the census,” said Long firmly. “But I don’t support the idea the taxpayers should be taxed again to pay for a census the federal government is already paid for. I’m just not for double-taxing. And I know you need funding for local advertising, and I think that’s when you have to go back to the federal government and tell them you have to have this additional funding.

“There’s a strain on us, and I realize it’s not a lot of money. However, if we keep doing that, from step to step… before we know it we’ve spent $100,000, and I just don’t feel like the taxpayers need to pay double on that.”

McBride reminded the court the census was already adding jobs to the Howard County workforce — albeit temporary jobs — and that incomplete information could spell disaster for area agencies looking to receive grants.

“A big part of what is really funded for census goes for the jobs it creates,” said McBride. “And it creates a lot of jobs in your area. So it is creating jobs and money for your area, as well. And when it comes to the promotional part… the investment can be made by the community.

“The value of this is when you start counting everyone in your community, those are the numbers that your hospitals and non-profit organizations — anyone that is developing a grant — use for those things. It helps your community out a lot.”

According to Long, those complaints from local grant-seekers have yet to come.

“None of those organizations that depend upon the census for their grant writing have gone to their local entities — not to this court since I’ve been on it — and said they are having trouble getting grant money because we don’t have a good census,” said Long.

The court declined to take any action on the matter. The Big Spring City Council, which McBride told county officials plans to follow their lead in the matter, is expected to discuss a possible donation to the 2010 Census this evening during its regular meeting.