January 8, 2021 

Voice of America Whistleblowers Protest Upcoming Live Worldwide Broadcast of Address by Secretary of State Pompeo to Live Audience of VOA Staff at VOA Headquarters

WASHINGTON—Today, Voice of America (VOA) whistleblowers notified the federal agencies responsible for oversight and investigations of VOA and its parent agency, the U.S. Agency for Global Media, of planned activities by political leadership that violate the law, constitute a gross misuse of government resources and endanger public health and safety. The notice – a letter from Government Accountability Project – raises serious concerns about a planned live broadcast through VOA’s worldwide channels of a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It is scheduled for January 11, 2021 before a live indoor audience of VOA employees at VOA’s Washington D.C. headquarters – notwithstanding the shocking and tragic events of January 6.

Government Accountability Project’s letter points out that the planned speech – before a live audience of VOA staffers in a windowless, rarely used auditorium – endangers that audience, regardless of COVID-19 precautions. The letter further says that the use of a live audience of VOA employees as scenery is especially brazen given that VOA is using the risk of COVID-19 infection as the sole reason for excluding outside media from attending.

Government Accountability Project’s letter also emphasizes that the planned speech violates law, rule and regulation guaranteeing VOA’s editorial independence through what is called the VOA firewall. The firewall is intended to protect VOA journalists and editors from political meddling.  Secretary Pompeo’s speech will be a reiteration of statements he has made in sympathetic interviews to outside media outlets this week. These interviews have been published verbatim on the State Department’s website. The media outlets have also published their own stories. The live, worldwide broadcast by the outgoing Secretary of State of a speech on topics already widely covered should be seen for what it is: the use of VOA to disseminate political propaganda in the waning days of the Trump administration. In other words, it is political meddling.

Government Accountability Project’s Senior Counsel David Seide, the signer of the letter, said:

“The Pompeo event is plainly a publicity stunt devoid of public interest and thus constitutes a gross misuse of government resources.”

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.