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Tomlinson Vigorously Defends BBG Actions

In what Yogi would call deja vu all over again, there is a call for the ouster of Ken Tomlinson tied to a  government investigation of his oversight of a broadcast organization.

Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) has called for the resignation of Broadcasting Board of Governors Chairman Ken Tomlinson, pointing to findings of a just-relesed State Department investigation into allegations Tomlinson had used his public office at BBG for private gain.

Attributing the  investigation to partisanship within BBG, Tomlinson defended himself vigorously Tuesday.

Tomlinson also was chairman of the CPB board before resigning last fall under pressure from critics of his effort to add more conservative programming to PBS and NPR and his hiring of an outside contractor to monitor for political bias.

Tomlinson broke laws and violated ethics policies during his tenure, CPB Inspector General Kenneth Konz concluded in a report last fall that led to changes in CPB board policy.

In a letter to the White House Aug. 29, Berman says he has been briefed on the results of the latest investigation, and that it supports the allegations he and others leveled in asking for the State Deparment inquiry.

In calling for the resignation, Berman released what appears to be a photocopy of the State Department findings.

Among those are that Tomlinson hired a friend as a contractor--he is not identified in the report but Tomlinson identifies him as Les Daniels--used government resources to support his horse racing business, worked on CPB matters at BBC, had BBC staffers do the same, asked for compensation from both BBC and CPB for the same hours worked; and worked more hours than he was allowed by law.

Berman, along with fellow California Democratic Rep. Tom Lantos and Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) wrote State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard back in July making the allegations and requesting the investigation. All are members of the House and Senate committees overseeing BBG.

Out of the country attending a conference, Tomlinson responded in an e-mail to B&C

"I am very proud of what I have accomplished for U.S. international broadcasting--from satellite television to Iran to the role I played in getting funding for satellite television to the Arab world to what we have done to expand broadcasting to the people of Afghanistan," he said.

"It was well known and accepted by all 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. I was appointed by Presidents to serve on two boards and I believe I was the first person in history to be chairman of two boards at the same time.  I made diligent efforts to bill each board only for the work I did for each board. 

"I also am proud of the work retired VOA employee Les Daniels--who previously had spent 35 years at VOA and was a revered figure there--has performed for VOA and U.S. international broadcasting. 

"I am confident that I spent far more time on broadcasting responsibilities at my farm and my private residences than I spent on my horses at the office--an average of one email and two and a half minutes a day, using I.G. [inspector general] figures.  In retrospect, I should have been more careful in this regard.  

"But I believe it will become clear this I.G. investigation was inspired by partisan divisions inside the BBG."