O&M lynched

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Whether it's just a dispute over what can and cannot be charged to the client, or outright fraud, or nothing at all, Ogilvy & Mather has discovered the downside of working for the government. And it's not pretty.

A former O&M employee turns "whistleblower;" House subcommittee Republicans see a chance to embarrass a Democratic White House; investigators from the General Accounting Office show up on the doorstep of a former O&M executive; Democrats cry foul, and so it goes. And all out in public. It's not exactly what Ogilvy bargained for when it won the contract to buy media for the White House anti-drug advertising campaign.

The White House anti-drug office has a right, and duty, to inspect how O&M is administering its account. Public money, no less than company funds, requires careful stewardship, and this is not the first time an advertiser and agency have wrangled over billable fees. It's not yet known what, if anything, went wrong with O&M's handling of this account. What clearly has gone wrong is the political gamesmanship that's left O&M bloodied in Congress before the facts are in.

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