A former Bush administration PR specialist has launched a new non-profit designed to raise the alarm about what it sees as “over-spending” in Washington — but is staying mum on how the group is being funded.
Public Notice launched late last month with a column on the website of US News and World Report, in which executive director Gretchen Hamel argued that “[b]ackroom deals, trillion-dollar deficits, pork-laden spending bills, and multibillion-dollar bailouts have left many Americans wondering if Washington can be trusted with their money.” The group’s sophisticated-looking website, Bankrupting America, adds that “unprecedented government spending and debt, corporate welfare, higher taxes, and poorly designed bureaucratic red tape are undermining economic progress,” and contends that the stimulus bill has been a failure.
Public Notice’s funding source remains obscure. In an interview with TPMmuckraker, Hamel — who served as the Bush administration’s top spokesperson on trade issues, and as press secretary for the House Republican Conference — said Public Notice had “dozens of donors across the U.S.,” but declined to identify them. “We will not be disclosing our donors,” she said. “We want to protect the anonymity of our donors,” she added, noting that other organizations of all political stripes take a similar stance.
Hamel, who last year founded a Washington-area PR firm, said that Public Notice would aim to educate people on “what the consequences of government over-spending are.” Those consequences, she said, involve “anything from taxes to inflation. Just the cost of everyday living.” She added: “We can’t continue to keep spending at this rate and there not be consequences.”
Asked what specific spending programs her group advocated cutting, Hamel responded: “Its not just about one program, its about the wasteful and inefficient spending that is a part of every program. Our government needs to approach spending like a family does. They need to find ways to stretch dollars and spend them smart and effectively and find ways to increase productivity and return on taxpayer dollars.”
The non-partisan group’s website includes a feature arguing that President Obama has aped President Bush in over-spending. “We’re gonna be critical of anyone who is involved in the misuse of taxpayer dollars and over-spending,” said Hamel.
Asked whether she had raised concerns about over-spending while she was a Bush administration official, Hamel said that she had, but did not elaborate.