Seema Verma
Seema Verma

Porter Novelli may need more than a check-up following reports that subcontractors on its multi-million-dollar contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services focused largely on buffing the image of its chief Seema Verma.

Politico obtained emails outlining a plan to boost Verma’s public visibility by targeting "key women’s, leadership and general-interest magazines for potential interview/profiles.”

Media consultant Pam Stevens drew up a program to feature Veema in Glamour, Women’s Day and a CNN profile on the “Badass Women of Washington.”

Those efforts seem to run afoul of the provision that prohibits federal officials from "spending taxpayer dollars for publicity purposes or using their public office for private gain,” according to Politico.

A CMS spokesperson downplayed the emails, saying that it didn't follow up on all submitted proposals. It only pursued ideas “that were aligned with our priorities and promoted the work of the agency and our record shows just that,” said the staffer.

The Washington Post also panned the 19-month strategic communications effort, which ended April 3, for attempting to elevate Verma “in ways that go beyond what federal consultants are usually hired to do—and possibly beyond what contracting law permits, according to the documents, individuals familiar with the team’s role and an expert on government ethics.”

The Post headline, “Top Trump health official spent $3M on contractors who helped boost her visibility,” is enough to give any PN healthcare staffers heartburn.

Porter Novelli referred questions to CMS.

Hats off to Chick-fil-A for its decision to end funding for faith-based and secular anti-LGBTQ groups. The company’s foundation will now focus on giving money to groups involved in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger.

The chicken restaurant chain moved into the national spotlight in 2012 after CEO Dan Cathy’s comments against same-sex marriage sparked boycotts.

“We’re inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,” said Cathy. "And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.”

Really? How about worrying about your own redemption?

Chick-fil-A’s new policy drew criticism from evangelicals like former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. He knocked the company for betraying "its loyal customers for $$,” according to his tweet. Huckabee said he coordinated a national Chick-fil-A appreciation day in August 2012 after the company “was being bullied by militant hate groups.”

Chick-fil-A is moving from its traditional southern base into liberal bastions such as New York City, which is filled with young people who wouldn’t even fathom discriminating against the LGBTQ community.

Huckabee may be right about the money. Chick fil-A's move though is about dollars and sense. Isn’t that the American way?