- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2006

President Bush, blocked by the Senate in two attempts, has used a recess appointment to bypass senators and put his top political advertising adviser on the panel that oversees the nation’s international broadcasting operations.

Mark McKinnon will join the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in time for its Jan. 10 meeting. The recess appointment is good for a year, but Mr. McKinnon said yesterday that he is confident the Senate would confirm him for a full term that would end in 2009.

Senators, however, often don’t look favorably on recess appointees.

The BBG oversees a global operation that draws more than 100 million listeners and viewers a week. The operations include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and broadcast systems that cover Asia, Cuba and the Middle East.

“This board is doing very important work confronting some of the biggest challenges this country faces trying to communicate the American image abroad,” Mr. McKinnon said.

Mr. Bush’s first attempt to get Mr. McKinnon on the board was in September 2005 in a nomination for a seat formerly held by a member whose term expired. The appointment ran into opposition from Democrats because it was a seat reserved for Democrats.

The nine-member board consists of four Democrats and four Republicans, as well as the secretary of state.

Several Democratic senators, including Delaware’s Joseph R. Biden Jr., were upset by the effort to put Mr. McKinnon in a Democratic seat. Mr. McKinnon had been an adviser to Texas Democrats before he signed on with Mr. Bush in 1997. He directed the media efforts, including advertising, in the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns.

In October 2005, Mr. Bush withdrew the McKinnon nomination for the Democratic seat and, instead, tapped him for a seat vacated by a Republican. It was a dual nomination, covering an unexpired term and a full term through 2009.

But senators never confirmed the nomination.

Mr. McKinnon said nominations to the board were held up in the Senate “due to issues that go back years” that had “nothing to do with me.”

“I told them I’d be glad to serve whenever it works out,” he said.

Mr. McKinnon’s nomination got caught up in Senate concerns about partisanship at the board. The concerns deepened when Mr. Bush renominated Kenneth Y. Tomlinson as the panel’s chairman. Mr. Tomlinson had drawn criticism during his tenure at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps support public radio and television stations. Critics said Mr. Tomlinson politicized that operation.

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