FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 19, 2021
Whistleblower Reinstated as CFO by US Agency for Global Media’s New Management
Chief Financial Officer Grant Turner Wrongly Fired by Former USAGM CEO Michael Pack
WASHINGTON—Today, Government Accountability Project applauds the recent reinstatement of Grant Turner, the long-serving and highly respected Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM), the agency overseeing Voice of America. Mr. Turner was wrongly removed in August 2020 at the behest of the then-head of USAGM, Michael Pack, along with other senior USAGM staff. Mr. Pack, a Trump political appointee, resigned on January 20, 2021, within two hours of President Biden’s inauguration.
On February 17, 2021, Pack’s replacement, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kelu Chao emailed all agency employees that she was “beyond pleased to announce” that Mr. Turner had been returned to the CFO position, along with five of his wrongly removed colleagues returned to their positions. She went on to write: “they went to great lengths to try to defend the firewall, which serves as the foundation for USAGM’s nonpartisan mission, including the objective journalism of our networks.”
Mr. Turner has served in the federal civil service as a career employee for 17 years; he has worked in five federal government agencies across three Presidential administrations, both Republican and Democrat. Before his reinstatement, he served as USAGM’s CFO for four years, and for the nine months preceding Mr. Pack’s arrival (in June 2020) he was interim CEO.
On August 12, 2020, Mr. Pack removed Mr. Turner, placed him on indefinite administrative leave, and later commenced a formal proceeding to remove him from federal government service. Before his removal, Mr. Turner had filed whistleblower complaints against Mr. Pack with the federal agencies that oversee USAGM. It is against federal whistleblower laws for agency management to retaliate against employees who have filed whistleblower complaints. Within days of Mr. Pack’s resignation, new management terminated the removal proceeding.
Government Accountability Project promptly intervened to help Mr. Turner, along with attorneys Mark Zaid and Robert Litt, and presented Mr. Turner’s complaints to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the independent federal agency which assists whistleblowers, and the Department of State Office of Inspector General. Notably, Government Accountability Project represented Mr. Turner when he testified at length as a whistleblower before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on September 24, 2020 at its hearing Oversight of the United States Agency for Global Media and U.S. International Broadcasting Efforts.
Government Accountability Project Senior Counsel David Seide, who represents Mr. Turner said:
“Grant Turner is an outstanding civil servant with an unblemished record of achievement and service. He and his colleagues were wrongly retaliated against by Michael Pack. Thankfully, Mr. Pack in now gone and USAGM is returning to normalcy.”
Contact: Andrew Harman, Government Accountability Project Communications Director
Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.