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Lender Investigation: State Paid $1.3M to PR Firm to Write Tweets, Conduct “Social Relations”

March 21, 2017 By Staff
Lender Investigation: State Paid $1.3M to PR Firm to Write Tweets, Conduct “Social Relations”

The Hartford Courant's Jon Lender blows a hole open in state spending with his new investigation into a state system's contracts with a public relations firm.

Connecticut faces a deficit of more than $1 billion in the next fiscal year. The budget of Gov. Dan Malloy (D-Conn.) calls for painful spending cuts, and tax and fee hikes. That didn’t spend a state education system from spending tens of thousands on tweets and LinkedIn posts.

The new investigation from the Hartford Courant‘s Jon Lender reveals the depth of wasteful spending at the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS). CTHSS’ current superintendent, Dr. Nivea L. Torres, is on leave over the payments.

A few things Lender’s investigation reveals:

  • Dr. Torres signed off on 11 agreements with a public relations (PR) firm, The Pita Group, between 2014 and 2017
  • These agreements amounted to “$1.3 million in total fees to the firm for public and media relations, marketing, ‘social relations’ and website services”
  • In addition to producing Facebook posts, tweets, and LinkedIn posts for CTHSS, The Pita Group also creates posts for Dr. Torres that position her “as an inspirational, next-generation education thought-leader”
  • One agreement paid The Pita Group $11,475 for three LinkedIn “status posts” per week, over five months (at minimum, that’s $191 per post)

Torres is sure to draw further scrutiny after Lender’s report, especially in the middle of Connecticut’s budget crisis. She is currently paid around $168,000 a year by the state.