Government regulator accuses VOA parent company under Trump commission of misconduct

This article features our Senior Counsel David Seide and was originally published here.

NPR reports that the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, a federal oversight agency, announced Wednesday that it had uncovered a “significant likelihood of wrongdoing” at the U.S. Agency for Global Media after an investigation into claims against its CEO was conducted.

As the parent company of Voice of America, a government-controlled international television and radio broadcaster, the company has been in a state of flux since President Trump appointed CEO Michael Pack.

Allegations include that Pack had two aides investigate VOA journalists, including White House bureau chief Steve Herman, and accuse them of anti-trump bias. Pack also tried to push stories that portrayed the president in a favorable light during the election cycle.

In November, Beryl Howell, a U.S. judge appointed by former President Obama, ruled that Pack had unjustly punished journalists for their alleged anti-trump sentiments and intervened with the intelligence community, writing that his actions “violated and continue to violate the rights [of journalists]under the First Amendment because they lead to self-censorship and cooling of First Amendment language, among other unconstitutional consequences.

Karen Tanenbaum, an attorney for the Federal Inspectorate, said the office had investigated several lawsuits against Pack that led to its conclusion, including the removal of a firewall to protect journalists, the dismissal of several network presidents, the refusal to renew visas for foreign employees, and more.

“This is a significant step, but far from the last,” David Seide, senior counsel of the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit law firm representing employees of the VOA and its parent company, told NPR about the findings of the federal oversight.

“Our clients have disclosed significant and frankly shocking allegations against this agency. It is gratifying that OSC has made this independent judgment”.

The U.S. Agency for Global Media did not immediately respond to Washington Newsday’s request for comment.