Kenneth Tomlinson, who resigned from the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on Nov. 3, is now under investigation for misusing funds and hiring "ghost employees" as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors — which oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, TV Marti and other "public diplomacy" programs.
According to the New York Times, the State Department's Inspector General launched an investigation after Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Christopher Dodd alerted officials to alleged possible improprieties. Stephen Labaton writes:
"People involved in the inquiry said it involved accusations that Mr. Tomlinson was spending federal money for personal purposes, using board money for corporation activities, using board employees to do [CPB] work and hiring ghost employees or improperly qualified employees."
State Department investigators seized records and e-mails, including correspondence between Tomlinson and Karl Rove — who served with Tomlinson on the previous incarnation of the broadcasting board in the early 1990s. From his perch in the West Wing, Rove also helped Tomlinson crush CPB reform legislation on Capitol Hill. The emails could provide evidence of Rove directing Tomlinson to crush critical voices at PBS and promote right wing programming.
The Times reports that the Rove-Tomlinson e-mails were shared with Kenneth Konz, who recently completed an investigation of Tomlinson's misdeeds at the CPB.
As CPB chairman, Tomlinson stacked its board and offices with political cronies, forced partisan programming on PBS, and secretly hired a conservative operative to monitor "Now with Bill Moyers" and other broadcasts for signs of "liberal advocacy journalism." Hundreds of thousands of concerned citizen called for Tomlinson's removal in response to his underhanded efforts to make PBS and NPR into megaphones for the Bush administration.
Tomlinson stepped down immediately after Konz's findings were presented to the CPB board in a closed session. Despite demands from public interest groups, Konz's report will not be made public until mid-November.
Tomlinson, who remains chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, returns to the hot seat on Thursday, Nov. 10, when he will appear before a House Subcommittee investigating irregularities at Al-Hurra — the television network set up by the broadcasting board as a pro-American counterpoint to Al-Jazeera.
Craig Aaaron contributed to this posting.