A publicity firm that produced a costly webcast for California Obamacare featuring a gyrating Richard Simmons was retained, along with another company, for three more years at a cost of $156 million.

One legislator demands an audit.

Covered California signed the contracts last week with Ogilvy Public Relations — maker of the $137-million Simmons video — and Campbell Ewald. Both are tasked with creating a media campaign to entice new enrollees, specifically minorities.

Facing the worst drought in recent memory—  spurring rising food costs and job losses — Californians have better uses for tax dollars than another PR campaign, says Sen. Ted Gaines, who plans to ask for an audit of Covered California’s marketing department.

“Ogilvy made some major mistakes in their advanced outreach, specifically with the use of Richard Simmons. Why are they being rewarded with a renewed contract when they wasted taxpayer money?” asked Gaines. “The video bombed; I wasn’t able to get satisfactory answers as to what they accomplished with this.”

Last year Gaines demanded an audit of Covered California’s marketing department, but the state’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee — composed mostly of Democrats — refused to order an investigation. Now the committee has new leadership, and Gaines thinks he has a great shot at success when next meeting is held Aug. 25.

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