RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin came under fire from Democrats on Wednesday after a newspaper reported that his political ad creator had recently received a state contract. six figures to produce a state tourism ad featuring the governor.
Richmond-based Poolhouse made the winning bid for the project and received a $268,000 contract to produce the “Governor’s Welcome Project” ad, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported..
The announcement was designed for distribution and display at airports and tourist centers, according to a contract obtained by the newspaper. It describes popular tourist destinations in the state and includes a welcome and narration by Youngkin.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation contacted three advertising agencies on May 5, offering them a chance to bid on the project, the newspaper reported. The agency is not subject to the law on state procurement.
Poolhouse responded with an offer the same day, according to state records. One company did not respond and another said it could not respond to the scope of work, the newspaper reported.
Poolhouse produces ads for Republican campaigns and political action committees, as well as businesses and advocacy groups. He worked on Youngkin’s winning campaign last year and continues to work with his PAC.
Will Ritter, co-founder and CEO of Poolhouse, said in a statement to the newspaper that the company was thrilled to partner with the agency “to brag about the state we love and call home.”
“We were thrilled to win the auction and have the chance to feature our favorite people and places in the ‘Welcome to Virginia’ campaign. We look forward to more opportunities to do high-level creative work for Virginia.” “said its statement.
Democrats raised questions about the award and criticized Youngkin, who has criss-crossed the country in recent weeks campaigning with GOP candidates and is increasingly seen as a future contender for national political office.
“This is government corruption at its peak,” tweeted Democratic House Leader Don Scott.
Virginia Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Swecker said the “plan” to use taxpayer money for “what is essentially a presidential campaign video” raises ethical and “possibly criminal” questions. She asked for an investigation.
Rob Damschen, spokesman for Youngkin, said in a statement to The Associated Press that tourism is an important part of Virginia’s economy and the governor was pleased to participate in the announcement.
Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism, defended the project and its sourcing in a statement to AP.
Poolhouse was selected because it “is a talented local company based in Virginia that has done exceptional work for other corporate clients, from Anheuser-Busch to Honda to GE. They were able to commit to a quick schedule to deliver product during our busy summer and fall travel seasons,” the statement read.
The ad will only air in Virginia, without any paid media, according to the release.