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US senators push for criminal probe into Department of Education spending

[JURIST] Democratic senators Thursday urged [press release] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] to open a criminal investigation into the Armstrong Williams education scandal [JURIST report]. The controversy stems from an agreement between the Bush administration and conservative commentator Armstrong Williams [Wikipedia profile] under which Williams agreed to promote the No Child Left Behind Act in various media outlets in exchange for $186,000 without disclosing the financial arrangement. In a letter to Gonzales, the Democrats claimed letter that an audit published by the Governmental Accounting Office [official website] last week revealed no evidence of Williams even having carried out the promotion. According to Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) [official profile], a signatory to the letter, "taking taxpayer dollars for work you didn't do is fraud – period.” Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) [official profile], John Kerry (D-MA) [official profile] and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) [official profile] also signed the letter. AP has more.

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