The Iowa senator successfully helped move her bill out of Senate committee this week
Mar 12 2020
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), known as the Senate’s leading foe of wasteful government spending, has successfully advanced her bill to prohibit tax dollars from being spent on “mascots” and government swag and to require the disclosure of all propaganda out of Senate committee.
“There’s zero reason for the federal government to blow a quarter of a million dollars of your hard-earned money on mascots and millions more on needless trinkets and gimmicks,” said Senator Ernst. “I thank my colleagues for their support of this commonsense bill that will create more transparency and curb Washington’s frivolous PR spending habits. We all agree, it’s time to bag government swag!”
Ernst’s Stop Wasteful Advertising by the Government Act, or SWAG Act passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee yesterday unanimously by voice vote.
The federal government spends more than $1.4 billion every year on public relations and advertising campaigns. Specifically, federal agencies have paid more than $250,000 to construct custom-made costumes for “mascots.” [Click HERE to see a list of taxpayer-funded government mascots.] However, the propaganda is not limited to freebies and cartoon characters. The State Department, for example, spent $630,000 to buy fake Facebook fans and paid to send social media influencers on a two-week junket from abroad to the location of popular U.S. television shows to promote American values.
Ernst’s SWAG Act would:
- Prohibit the federal government from spending money to create a “mascot” to promote an agency, program, or agenda, unless such a character is explicitly authorized by statute—like “Smokey Bear” or “Woodsy Owl.”
- Require agencies to publicly disclose spending on public relations and advertising.
- Prohibit the purchase and distribution of “swag”—merchandise such as buttons, coloring books, fidget spinners, keychains, koozies, or stickers, for example—by federal agencies, unless agencies can show that the purchases will generate a positive return on investment or are explicitly authorized by statute.