On Wednesday, the Lansing State Journal reported that a public relations firm sent Michigan State University the bill for more than $500,000 in expenses, covering work done this past January. The services rendered? Monitoring the social media activity of individuals in some way associated with or commenting upon the Larry Nassar sex abuse cases, including victims, their families, journalists, and celebrities.
According to documents obtained by the State Journal through a public records request, this social media tracking was performed by New York-based firm Weber Shandwick, and elapsed over the course of 1,440 hours. The firm billed 18 employees for said work at exorbitant rates ($200 to $600 per hour).
An MSU spokesperson told the State Journal that Weber Shandwick is no longer contracted by the university. Kimberly Dixon, director of global corporate communications for Weber Shandwick told the State Journal over email:
“Weber Shandwick was retained by outside counsel to Michigan State University in late December 2017 to provide communications support. Weber Shandwick’s work has since ended…. As part of Weber Shandwick’s work providing communications counsel, the firm monitored media and social media conversations surrounding the university, which included posts from the survivors of the Larry Nassar case.”
A former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor, Nassar received two prison sentences of up to 125 years and up to 175 years earlier this year, having been found guilty of decades of sexual abuse, to which hundreds of young women attested in court.
Read the full report here.