June 1, 2021

Whistleblowers Reveal Former Head of Voice of America Overseer Abused His Authority to Investigate “Disloyal” Federal Employees

New Document Shows that Trump Appointee Michael Pack Relied on a Pretextual Justification Crafted by Political Appointees to Pay Over $1.8 Million for Legal Services to Investigate Federal Employees

WASHINGTON – Today, Government Accountability Project, on behalf of anonymous whistleblowers, alerted Congress and federal whistleblower agencies to new details over $1.8 million in sole source, no bid contracts awarded by Michael Pack to investigate employees at the agency he headed, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), parent agency of Voice of America (VOA). CEO Pack was a Trump political appointee who resigned within hours of President Biden’s inauguration.

Within weeks of assuming office, Pack suspended six senior USAGM career executives whom he considered insufficiently loyal. Concurrent with the suspensions, Pack retained a private law firm, McGuireWoods, to investigate the employees to obtain evidence that could be used to fire them. No such evidence was obtained and the employees were restored to their positions within days of Pack’s departure.

To justify hiring McGuireWoods and another law firm, Caplin & Drysdale, via no bid contracts (competitive bidding is typical for federal contracts) Pack secured written justification from two political appointees, Mora Namdar and Sam Dewey, in the form of a cursory, two page memo. The memo was kept secret and career employees who should have been consulted were bypassed. The justification was legally unsupportable and thus pretextual.

What does this show? First, Pack wanted to move fast, and bidding out contracts would take time. Second, career staff were not consulted because they would have likely rejected the contracts since they violated the federal government’s contracting rules and established internal agency policy. Third, they manufactured a pretextual justification because they knew they needed something, anything in the files to justify their wasteful investigations.

In its letter, Government Accountability Project Senior Counsel David Seide wrote:

“[T]he new evidence shows that by relying on a pretextual justification CEO Pack, Mora Namdar and Sam Dewey – all Trump political appointees – knew what they were doing was wrong; they acted with bad intent.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Contact: Andrew Harman, Government Accountability Project Communications Director
Phone: 202.926.3304

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.