- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2013

No need to bid. A marketing firm with close ties to President Obama and his political campaigns was given the lucrative job of designing Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” anti-obesity logo without having to go through the government contract bidding route.

Judicial Watch reported the firm, Shepardson, Stern & Kaminsky, was awarded the $100,000 job, in violation of federal contracting rules. And that’s not just Judicial Watch’s interpretation of law — federal officials admitted the deal was an “unauthorized commitment,” in documents obtained by the government watchdog from a Freedom of Information Act request.

In a written statement, Judicial Watch reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture put together a “request for ratification of an unauthorized commitment” as a means of making the deal legitimate. Judicial Watch also reported that records obtained from the FOIA indicate that federal authorities who awarded the company the $100,000 job did so because the anti-obesity campaign was considered too important to delay for the normal bidding process.

One email obtained by Judicial Watch showed the USDA deputy director, Jodey Edwards, who works in the Office of Procurement & Property Management, asking an administrative official named Yvette Ward: “What did we get for our money … any deliverable? I know this is an unauthorized commitment: however the contractor still must provide evidence of what is being paid for …”

Judicial Watch reported the marketing firm had scant government contracting experience — but plenty of ties to the Obamas and to leftist causes that support Mr. Obama.

Among their findings: One partner in the firm, Robert Shepardson, worked on Mr. Obama’s political campaigns and then played a key role in designing the “Let’s Move” logo initiative. Another former partner in the firm, Marty Cooke, served as creative director for Mr. Obama’s presidential run in 2008. And another partner, Rebecca Matovic, worked for the George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, as well as the Gates Foundation and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Moreover, Judicial Watch also found that the firm headed up the Obama for America’s youth campaigns in 2008 and again in 2012. Prior to winning the Obama administration’s favor, the firm had only worked one government contract — for the Department of Defense in 2002, for $50,000.