Gov. Rendell said he will rescind the $30,000 contract his administration awarded to public relations expert Kevin Feeley, saying it is inappropriate for taxpayers to be paying for the publicity work.
Rendell said he will ask Feeley to return the $10,000 the state had paid him so far for the so-called legacy project. The project, which The Inquirer first reported last week, calls for amassing personal stories from residents to illustrate how Rendell's policies and programs have helped them.
The governor said he will pay Feeley with campaign funds.
"Anything else is inappropriate," he said.
He said he did not know that state funds were being used to pay for it.
"It is a good project," Rendell said, but added that "it's an inappropriate expense of government dollars."
Republicans had said the contract was a slap in the face at a time when Rendell was warning of possible layoffs of state workers as revenue continues to shrink.
This is not the first time the administration has been criticized for an outside hire. Last year, Rendell brought in Philadelphia political strategist and media consultant Ken Snyder to help him with publicity. Snyder worked under a $100,000 contract.
Feeley has a long resumé, including having served as Rendell's spokesman for eight years when Rendell was mayor of Philadelphia. He is now president of Bellevue Communications, one of the top public-relations firms in the city.
Feeley said Friday that he had spoken to dozens of people during the last few months and that his report would be replete with stories of those helped by state programs.
One story is that of an eighth grader from McKees Rocks, outside Pittsburgh, whose school Rendell visited a few years back to announce a state grant for a tutoring program.
That child, Feeley said, told the governor at the time: "We're not stupid anymore."
"That just blew the governor away," he said. " told the boy, 'You were never stupid; it's about having the resources for success.' "
The youngster, Feeley said, ended up staying in high school in part because of the tutoring program. He now has a full-time job.