Ogilvy Ouster in Doubt

WASHINGTON — Now that Ogilvy & Mather’s main adversary in the House of Representatives has lost his re-election bid, the shop’s odds of surviving lawmakers’ efforts to bar it from the White House anti-drug media campaign will improve if the Senate defers action on an appropriations bill until next year.

The Senate could adopt a “continuing resolution,” as the House did last week, which would maintain the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy campaign at the current level of $180 million and retain Ogilvy until the January session.

If this happens, the amendment introduced by Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., and passed by the House-which prevents Ogilvy from holding the account because it settled civil charges following a federal probe of its billing practices-dies. Since Barr was not re-elected, another lawmaker would have to take up the effort.

But the New York shop is not safe yet, congressional sources said. “There are still a number of opportunities for people who want to do something about Ogilvy to still do it,” said one congressional staffer.

The Senate could fold the House bill with the Barr amendment into an omnibus bill, which would also bar Ogilvy if it passes. Or Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., could follow through on his plan to introduce a version of the Barr amendment in the Senate, though he would no longer chair the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Treasury and General Government in the next session.

“We don’t anticipate any meaningful disruption in the media campaign,” said an ONDCP representative. Ogilvy declined comment.