An abandoned $250 million public health ad campaign intended to boost
President Donald Trump before the Nov. 3 election reportedly flagged celebs including Billie Eilish, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera for their criticism of the administration and support of issues including LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage.
According to The Washington Post, a top administration official plugged “partisan political interests” into the ad contract intended to “defeat despair and inspire hope” in the midst of the raging COVID-19 pandemic in the weeks before the nationwide vote, specifically excluding stars who’ve been critical of Trump and his policies.
Among the alleged concerns about the celebrities in the reported documents was that 18-year-old Eilish isn’t a fan of the president’s, and claiming she was “destroying our country and everything we care about.” As for Lopez, the documents cited her Super Bowl performance, during which she criticized Trump’s immigration policies.News
Billboard has reached out to Eilish’s rep for comment.
Three high-ranking Democratic House lawmakers reportedly sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in which they claimed that the HHS Asst. Secretary for Public Affairs, Michael Caputo, wanted to use the taxpayer-funded campaign to give the flagging Trump presidential bid a boost with themes such as “Helping the President will Help the Country.”
The documents are said to contain evidence that Trump political appointees and contractors vetted stars for whether they supported the president (or criticized him) or if they boosted former President Obama, “gay rights or same-sex marriage.”
Out of the 247 celebs reportedly considered, only 10 made the cut. None of the PSAs ever went live and the campaign is currently under review at HHS. Though the Post did not detail all the celebrities who were red-flagged, among the others who were reportedly nixed were director Judd Apatow, comedian George Lopez, “Obama-supporting Democrat and gay rights supporting liberal” Aguilera, Levine (a “liberal Democrat who supported Obama and fights for gay rights”), Timberlake (“publicly endorsed Obama and supports gay marriage”), Johnny Depp (“appears to be aligned with the Liberal Left”) and actor/Tenacious D singer Jack Black (“known to be a classic Hollywood liberal”).
A spokesperson for the White House did not return a request for comment.
The approved list reportedly included actor Dennis Quaid, gospel singer CeCe Winans, singers Marc Anthony, Billy Ray Cyrus, Miranda Lambert, Garth Brooks, Enrique Iglesias, Hasidic singer Shulem Lemmer, TV doctor Mehmet Oz and NBA star Dwayne Wade. Three are said to have done interviews about the pandemic that were going to be used in the campaign, but as of Oct. 1, all had reportedly withdrawn consent to use the footage.
In another twist, Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Aguilera, Depp, Brad Pitt and Cardi B were among the artists the documents said officials were considering to potentially target “superspreaders,” though it was not known why they were tagged as such.