Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Watts Surfaces In Arizona Infomercial Controversy

From Talking Points Memo ~ That "free money" government grants informercial that former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) appeared in in 2007? It was all former Rep. J.C. Watts' idea! At least that's what the Hayworth campaign said Monday.

While it remains unclear exactly what role Watts may have played in recruiting Hayworth to the infomercial cause, Watts has had quite a post-Congressional career as both a pitchman and a lobbyist.

Watts' lobbying clients have included AT&T, the National Installment Lenders Association -- a payday loan trade organization (Watts' mentor Barry Switzer, former college and professional football coach, is a partner in a payday loan company) -- the United Keetoowah Band/Cherokee Indians, and others.

In addition, he has done pitch work as well. The National Grants Conferences -- the program promoted by Hayworth -- had previously used Watts' name to promote its services. The company promoting the NGC is Proven Methods Seminars. It should be noted that the company's conferences and business practices have received an F rating from the Better Business Bureau, and in 2007 it was the target of a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, signed by 32 state attorneys general.

The Virginia Pilot reported in 2005 that a National Grants Conference instructor showed an audience in Hampton, VA, a photo of Watts and said, "You don't get Congressman J.C. Watts to endorse your service unless you do things right." (Via Nexis)

And in an investigative story in 2006, the Sacramento Bee reported: In a late-night television infomercial played frequently in areas where a free introductory NGC session is scheduled, former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) urges viewers to attend.

Two of the company's principals, Irene Milin and her husband, Mike, sit across a table from Watts and tell viewers that hundreds of billions of federal dollars are available for purposes such as starting a business or investing in real estate. (Via Nexis)

Phone calls to Watts's office were not returned.

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