Citing reports of "waste and misuse of funds" by the Corporation for Travel Promotion (Brand USA), six Republican senators on Thursday called on the Obama administration to provide documents and records of the new tourism promotion firm's activities.
In a letter to the Commerce Department, the senators said they were seeking "a clearer understanding of the operations of the corporation and its oversight by the department," and asked for documents related to what they called a "high-end" Brand USA launch party at World Travel Market in London last November.
In a statement responding to the letter, Brand USA said, "We are confident that the positive impact the marketing campaign has on job growth and the economy will speak for itself. This is an effort we can all feel good about supporting, and the overwhelming bipartisan support that the Travel Promotion Act has maintained is an indication of that.
The Republican senators requested an itemized list of all the company's expenses to date, including the salaries and benefits of its top executives. The letter also requested an itemization of all cash and in-kind contributions from the industry and a country-by-country breakdown of "hits" to the Discoveramerica.com websites.
The letter also asked for records specifically relating to the corporation's contract with JWT, which developed the Brand USA ad campaign. Plus, the Republican senators questioned why the corporation's annual report, expected in mid-May, has yet to be released.
The letter was signed by Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).