President Obama hired hundreds of additional public relations employees to sell his administration’s policies, at a total cost to taxpayers of nearly half a billion dollars a year, the government’s chief watchdog reported Wednesday.

Mr. Obama added some 667 PR staffers between 2008, the last full year under his predecessor, and 2011, when staffing levels peaked at 5,238 — a spike of 15 percent during those years. The number has since slipped, but there were still nearly 5,100 PR staffers in the administration in 2014, according to figures from the Government Accountability Office.

That doesn’t include the more than $100 million spent each year to hire private spinmeisters to supplement the government’s PR efforts. And yet more money — nearly $800 million in 2015 — is spent each year on contracts with outside advertising firms hired to prop up the administration’s policies.

“With increasing pressures on limited federal resources, it is crucial to know how much is spent across the federal government on public relations activities and which federal agencies are spending the most,” said Sen. Mike Enzi, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who requested the report.

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