LA County Spending Thousands on PR Firms Help With Their COVID-19 Messaging


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FOX 11 investigative reporter Bill Melguin obtained contracts that showed Los Angeles County hiring two different public relations firm to assist them in their COVID-19 message, even though the county has a full staffed and paid communications team.

To make matters worse, the county is looking to be reimbursed these payments with disaster relief funds.

As the coronavirus, continued to spread and matters got worse, Los Angeles was forced to make difficult choices and started holding daily briefings to inform the public of what was going on. This led them to become concerned with how their message was being perceived.

One of the contracts that Melguin was able to obtain showed that on March 12, the PR firm Fraser Communications was paid at least $200,000.

Fraser told FOX 11, "they were hired to draft press releases and talking points, monitor public perception of COVID-19, and the county’s response to it, amongst other things."

Two weeks later on March 30, the global public strategy firm Mercury Public Affairs was also hired at the cost of $200,000.

That is now two additional PR firms costing the county up to $400,000.

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is not pleased with these purchases and their expectation to be reimbursed

“Ultimately, FEMA is going to ask why they are trying to get refunds for a PR firm in a time like this,” he said.

Villanueva is upset because the county would not pay his deputies who were ordered to quarantine in March

“I’d like to know how many ventilators that would have paid for, how many masks?” Villanueva asked.

“What added resource does hiring these firms bring to the problem?” Villanueva said. “Probably nothing that I’m aware of, and that’s something that they’re going to have to defend with the taxpayer.”

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