The state inspector general is investigating the $268,000 contract awarded to the political advertising agency behind Glenn Youngkin’s 2021 gubernatorial campaign to produce a Virginia Tourism commercial that features the governor.
The 60-second spot produced by Poolhouse, titled “Governor’s Welcome Project,” which features Youngkin at Richmond Raceway, runs on a loop at airports and welcome centers across the Commonwealth.
House Minority Leader Don Scott and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, in a letter to Inspector General Michael Westfall requesting the investigation, contend that the commercial spot amounts to a campaign ad for Youngkin, who has been building toward a bid for the 2024 Republican Party presidential nomination for the past several months.
Poolhouse created branded logos and images for Youngkin’s 2021 gubernatorial campaign, and has continued working for the governor through his PAC.
The focus of the investigation will be on whether the Virginia Tourism Corp. followed its procurement rules when it awarded the contract to Poolhouse, which was founded in 2013, and specializes in digital advertising for Republican political candidates, and had not performed marketing work for a state agency prior to the award for the Virginia Tourism project featuring Youngkin.
Poolhouse, which is based in Richmond, was the only company to bid on the project, which was put out to bid on May 5 by the Virginia Tourism Corp., with tight deadlines that The Martin Agency, one of the two other advertising companies that had been approached to gauge interest in bidding for the contract, said were too tight.
The other company that was solicited, Henninger Media Services, did not respond.
Poolhouse responded on the day that Virginia Tourism reached out to the companies with the opportunity to bid on the project.
Democratic Party of Virginia chair Susan Swecker, in a statement, hinted at the “potentially criminal actions” involved in the contract controversy.
“While it is unfortunate the governor’s behavior has brought our Commonwealth to this, Virginians deserve the inspector general’s investigation into Gov. Youngkin’s misuse of our tax dollars to line the pockets of his political consultants,” Swecker said. “Virginians need to know how Glenn Youngkin’s political advertising firm was able to receive special treatment, avoid procurement laws, and end up being awarded hundreds of thousands of our taxpayer dollars to produce a campaign-style ad. For the sake of all Virginians, let’s hope that the inspector general leaves no stone unturned in investigating the unprecedented and potentially criminal actions of the Youngkin administration.”