- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2016

The White House said Thursday that President Obama’s costly addition of hundreds of public relations specialists to the government payroll was necessary to tell the public about the president’s achievements.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration “has made it a priority to interact with the public and interact with the press corps and to be as transparent as possible.”

“That is work that requires dedicated professionals who are interested in furthering that goal and helping the American people understand exactly what the administration is doing, what we have prioritized and what our success has been in implementing the agenda laid out by President Obama,” Mr. Earnest said.

The Obama White House, like other administrations, has a press operation staffed with several dozen employees, as well as press offices in each of the various cabinet agencies.

The Government Accountability Office said Mr. Obama has added hundreds of PR specialists during his tenure, costing taxpayers about $500 million per year. That’s in addition to $100 million per year spent on private-sector spinmeisters and $800 million spent annually on advertising.

Mr. Earnest said he hadn’t seen the GAO report, but he defended the administration’s actions.

SEE ALSO: Obama administration hires hundreds of PR staffers

“I think our track record on this is pretty strong, both in terms of the substantive progress we’ve made but also in terms of the effective way we’ve been able to communicate with the American public,” he said. “The American public and our democracy is well served by that.”

Responding to criticism of the expense, he said “there’s not much we do around her that isn’t the source of vociferous criticism on the right.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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