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Commentator paid to promote No Child Left Behind settles with Education Dept.

[JURIST] Conservative radio commentator Armstrong Williams [Wikipedia profile; JURIST news archive] has agreed to pay the US Department of Education [official website] $34,000 after a year-long investigation of the commentator's agreement to endorse President Bush's education policies, a Department spokesperson confirmed Sunday. Williams has admitted no wrongdoing, but the Justice Department determined that Williams was overpaid for his contracted work. In 2003, the Department agreed to pay Williams $240,000 in exchange for his promotion of the No Child Left Behind Act [text] in various media outlets without disclosing his connection to the administration.

An investigation was initiated after the Government Accountability Office [official website] released an audit which revealed no evidence of Williams having carried out the promotion. The Justice Department review did not evaluate whether Williams improperly promoted the White House's agenda, but the GAO General Counsel concluded in October 2005 that the payments were illegal [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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