Wednesday, August 30, 2006

VOA & Radio Free Europe Topper Ensnared in Corruption Probe

Today's NY Times and Washington Post both report that former CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson--currently head of the International Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversees Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America--has been named in a State Department corruption investigation. He's accused of hiring cronies, running a horse-breeding business, and other violations. Interestingly, despite the swirl of scandal, President Bush had re-nominated Tomlinson for another term.

From the Post story by Paul Farhi:
The most sensational complaint against Tomlinson might be that he used government resources to support his stable of thoroughbred racehorses, potentially violating federal embezzlement laws. Tomlinson has had a lifelong interest in breeding and racing horses. Upon his retirement from Reader's Digest in 1996, he began to devote himself to raising horses at his ranch, Springbrook Farm, near Middleburg.

The investigation determined that Tomlinson used his office for his thoroughbred activities, but the summary offers no details.

The State Department said it turned its report over to the Department of Justice, which has declined to bring criminal charges against Tomlinson. The allegation involving the contractor, however, is pending in DOJ's civil division.

Tomlinson, who is attending a conference in Berlin, said via e-mail yesterday that he made "diligent efforts" to bill each board for the work he did. "It is well known and accepted by all," Tomlinson wrote, "that because of the importance of what I was doing in the war on terror that I would be working more than 130 days a year," which is the statutory maximum.

He also wrote that he devoted an average of one e-mail and 2 1/2 minutes a day at the office to his horse operations. "In retrospect," he wrote, "I should have been more careful in this regard."

The inspector general's report was made public by three Democratic members of Congress: Reps. Howard Berman and Tom Lantos, both of California, and Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut. The three legislators requested the investigation last year after being contacted by an anonymous BBG employee.

The lawmakers called for Tomlinson's removal yesterday and urged President Bush in a letter to "take all necessary steps to restore the integrity of the Broadcasting Board of Governors."
I'm an outsider, but I'd say Ken Tomlinson's chances of getting through the Senate for a second term are zero. You can read the original State Department investigation posted on Congressman Howard Berman's website.(ht TPM

President Bush may not realize it, but the Democrats have done him a favor by forcing Tomlinson out. It gives Bush a second chance--to nominate somebody qualified to improve America's battered image around the globe.