A federal investigation has found numerous incidents of malfeasance by a Trump appointee who served as director general of the US Global Media Agency, which oversees Voice of America, including an attempt to force executives from the agency for their political beliefs.
The Office of Special Counsel found that “during his less than eight-month CEO tenure [Michael] Pack was responsible for numerous improper activities, including “abuse of authority, gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, or violation of laws, rules, or regulations.” The OSC report concluded that Pack “abused his authority and retaliated against career USAGM executives who engaged in whistleblowing.”
The day after his confirmation as USAGM CEO, Pack and a career staffer met to decide which executives to target based on their perceived political beliefs. In a memo, an employee wrote about the alleged beliefs of senior Voice of America leaders, according to NPR. “He hates Republicans,” said the staffer of a senior leader. “Openly despises Trump and the Republicans,” wrote another. The memo alleged that a third senior leader “is not on the Trump team.”
As CEO, Park revoked the security clearances of six members of USAGM’s senior executive service. After the suspensions, Pack “hired a private law firm to provide post-hoc justifications” for his actions, according to the report. It further alleges that Pack suspended security clearances, rather than removing executives in other ways, to “circumvent procedural protections and legal restrictions on executive removal.”
USAGM has oversight of Voice of America and other broadcast channels, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia, which are funded by the federal government. These media are designed to bring news to countries where a free press is suppressed or not economically viable.
The OSC found that Pack interfered with independent journalism at Voice of America and other media it oversaw; retaliation against managers who filed whistleblower allegations; and mismanaged and wasted funds by paying $1.6 million in a confidential, no-bid contract to a Virginia law firm to investigate USAGM executives. Pack also “restricted employee communications with third parties [and] failed to exempt statutorily protected disclosures.”
Park, in an interview with The Federalist quoted by NPR, said her decisions were made “to drain the swamp, eliminate corruption and deal with these issues of partisanship.”