Freshly uncovered e-mails detail White House involvement in the National Endowment for the Arts’ controversial conference call encouraging artists to create work that promotes the Obama agenda.
Yosi Sergant, then the NEA communications director, encouraged conference callers to create art that supports Obama’s goals in the areas of health care, education and the environment.
“I would encourage you to pick something, whether it’s health care, education, the environment, you know, there’s four key areas that the corporation has identified as the areas of service,” Sergant said on the call.
White House staffer Buffy Wicks thanked the artists for all the work they had done together during the past two years.
Details of the conference call were made public through release of a transcript and audio on the BigHollywood website.
Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request related to the NEA’s Aug. 10 conference call and successfully obtained documents consisting of internal NEA correspondence, including e-mails involving Sergant and former actor and current associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, Kalpen Modi.
The following are excerpts from the email correspondence:
- Aug. 10, 10:23 a.m.: e-mail from Yosi Sergant to Kalpen Modi: “[The call is] organized by me … I’d ask you to come on and give the exact spiel you gave on Saturday. Walk them through the WH Arts Policy. They won’t know it. Then I will take them into United We Serve and the NEA.”
- Aug. 10, 10:29 a.m.: e-mail from Kalpen Modi to Yosi Sergant: “Oy. This would be awesome to be a part of. Let me know if you think it’s going long, or maybe I can get someone from here to do it if I can’t because of the Social Security mtg.”
- Aug. 10, 11:04 a.m.: e-mail from Kalpen Modi to Yosi Sergant: “Let me see if we can move Social Sec by a few mins. Agreed, it would be great to be on the call and helpful for us also.”
- Aug. 10, 1:37 p.m.: e-mail from Yosi Sergant to Buffy Wicks, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement: “We have an important call at 2pm for UWS (United We Serve) and the Arts with my peeps. Indie producers around the country. Kal can’t join the call. Any chance you can hop on for 5 minutes and intro with Nellie and I?”
According to Judicial Watch, the names of people on the conference call were redacted due to “privacy concerns,” but some of their titles were disclosed, including: green blogger, publisher, musician, music writer, film/marketing, actress/director, marketing, magazine, marketing/magazine, event producer and actress.
The participants were described by the NEA communications director in an e-mail as a “rad group, who can really get stuff done.”
“These e-mails shed new light on a very serious Obama administration scandal,” Judicial Watch said in a statement. “The NEA is supposed to foster the arts, not serve as a propaganda machine for the Obama White House. We will continue our investigation so we can provide the truth to the American people about this scandal.”