- The Washington Times - Friday, September 1, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The chairman of the agency that oversees Voice of America and other U.S. overseas broadcasts defended his record yesterday against accusations of misconduct and vowed to stay on the job.

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, flatly disputed accusations in a State Department inspector general’s report that he hired a friend as a consultant and overbilled for his time.

Mr. Tomlinson said the consultant, Lee Daniels, was a 35-year veteran of the Voice of America whom he first met in 1982 and asked VOA to bring him back from retirement.

“He is qualified in putting stuff on the air and he knows more about how the VOA works than most senior executives,” Mr. Tomlinson said upon his return from an international broadcasting conference in Berlin.

“He is not a neighbor. He is not a political friend. I do consider him a friend.”

On overbilling accusations, Mr. Tomlinson said that while critics argue that the law limits him to pay for 130 days a year, “everyone knows we are treating this as a full-time job.”

And so, Mr. Tomlinson said he billed for eight hours a day even when he often worked many more hours.

A summary of a report by the State Department’s inspector general was released Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Andy Fisher, spokesman for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the panel had taken no action to recommend approval or disapproval of President Bush’s renomination of Mr. Tomlinson in January 2005 while the investigation was under way “and does not intend to now.” His term expired in 2004.

Under the 1994 law that created the board, Mr. Tomlinson can remain at his post until a successor is confirmed.

Mr. Tomlinson said that is what he intends to do. And he said he was prepared to answer any questions put to him by congressional Republicans and Democrats.

“I am very proud of my record,” he said.

Among accomplishments he cited were obtaining funds for U.S. satellite television broadcasting to Iran and expanded broadcasts to Afghanistan.

“We would not have satellite television to Tehran if we had not done what I did in 2003 with the help of Congress and the administration,” Mr. Tomlinson said.

There are four hours of telecasts to Iran daily, repeated three times a day, and round-the-clock television to the Arab world. Mr. Tomlinson said he helped to get the initial funding.

Reps. Howard L. Berman and Tom Lantos, California Democrats, and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, said in a statement earlier this week that they were outraged by what has emerged from the investigation that they requested last year.

They said in a letter to Mr. Bush that the results of the investigation left no doubt that Mr. Tomlinson had violated the public trust and Mr. Bush’s own ethical standards.

“We urge you to immediately remove Mr. Tomlinson from his position and to take all necessary steps to restore the integrity of the Broadcasting Board of Governors,” they wrote.

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