As if having longtime Republican Kenneth Tomlinson chairing the CPB and pushing for former RNC chairwoman Pat Harrison for CEO wasn’t bad enough, now we have fiscal impropriety and more politics.
Investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are examining $15,000 in payments to two Republican lobbyists last year that were not disclosed to the corporation’s board, people involved in the inquiry said on Wednesday…..One of the lobbyists was retained at the direction of the corporation’s Republican chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, they said, and the other at the suggestion of his Republican predecessor…..The investigators, in the corporation’s inspector general’s office, are also examining $14,170 in payments made under contracts – which Mr. Tomlinson took the unusual step of signing personally, also without the knowledge of board members…
One of the lobbyists, Brian Darling, who was paid $10,000, is the former aide to Senator Mel Martinez of Florida. He resigned after he was identified as the author of a memorandum describing how to exploit politically the Terri Schiavo affair. The other lobbyist was Mark Buse, a former top aide to Senator John McCain.
On the political front…
Item: Senator Byron L. Dorgan, (D-ND), requested the lobbyist’s reports about Bill Moyer’s “Now” program, but Tomlinson provided him instead with the raw data used to produce the reports. The data described Senator Chuck Hagel, R-NE), as a “liberal” due to his appearance on a segment that questioned the Bush Administration’s policies in Iraq. Hagel, of course, is a reliable conservative with an occassional maverick streak. Another segment about financial waste at the Pentagon was classified as “anti-Defense,” These reports represent a clear misuse of taxpayer money for partisan political purposes. Dorgan, along with Senators Clinton (D-NY) and Lautenberg (D-NJ) sent Tomlinson a letter asking that he suspend his efforts on behalf of Patricia Harrison, the former RNC co-chair he favors as the corporation’s next president.
Item: E-mail messages show that Tomlinson directed Kathleen Cox, then president of the corporation, to send material to Mary C. Andrews, the White House director of global communications. They show that Ms. Andrews worked on a variety of ombudsman issues before joining the corporation, while still on the White House payroll. A month later, Mr. Tomlinson said in an interview that he did not think he had instructed a anyone to send material on the ombudsman project to Ms. Andrews, a political appointee. Copies of the e-mail messages were given to the New York Times, under an agreement of anonymity, by a senior CPB executive who is concerned about Tomlinson’s stewardship. The e-mails show a clear violation of the CPB’s charter to act as a buffer to prevent political influence over PBS.
Item: The White House has nominated Dina Powell, currently the White House personnel director, to the post of deputy under secretary of state for public diplomacy, reporting to former Bush advisor, Karen P. Hughes. Senator Joe Biden has held up the nomination because of the White House’s attempt to remove Norman J. Pattiz, a major figure on the Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversees American international broadcasting efforts.
“When I called the White House and asked why my name wasn’t sent forward, they said that it was under review,” Mr. Pattiz said. “It was under review because my name had appeared in a Kerry campaign ad last year. That’s the explanation I got.”
The Broadcast Board of Governors is, by law, made up of four Republicans and four Democrats. So the White House is seeking to punish a board member for his political affiliation when such affiliation is a de facto condition of board membership. Should Pattiz not be renominated, his replacement would also have to be a Democrat. Also, sources in the Senate said Mr. Pattiz had tangled with Tomlinson [him again] over Tomlinson’s interference in staff decisions that were within Pattiz’ jurisdiction. Think that has anything to do with his stalled renomination?
As I’ve said before, the CPB is history. Who’s up for creating a new public broadcasting funding institution?
The latest bad news for Tomlinson is that 16 senators signed a letter to President Bush calling for Tomlinson to be fired. The article describing this development also contains this gem:
In a letter to Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, on May 24, Mr. Tomlinson said he saw no need to consult with the board about the contract with the researcher, Fred Mann, because it was “approved and signed by then CPB President, Kathleen Cox.” But a copy of the contract provided by a person unhappy with Mr. Tomlinson’s leadership shows that Mr. Tomlinson signed it on Feb. 3, 2004, five months before Ms. Cox became president.
The sleaze goes on…..