- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

National Public Radio (NPR) is using taxpayer dollars to pay for high-priced lobbyists to fight Republican efforts to prohibit federal funding for the broadcaster. Despite outrage over the openly liberal network receiving tens of millions of dollars in subsidies while government deficits are at record levels, NPR brass have engaged a new lobbying firm to keep the spigots flowing.

Immediately after the House voted to permanently defund NPR in mid-March, the network hired the well-heeled lobbying firm of Bracy Tucker Brown & Valanzano to represent it. The amount of taxpayer funds being paid to the firm won’t be known until second-quarter lobbying reports are filed. However, in 2010, NPR spent more than $411,000 on its in-house lobbyists. On top of that, the Podesta Group, a Democratic lobbying firm, charged NPR $120,000 last year (though the firm was terminated at the end of March).

NPR has been under fire the past six months for its executives’ actions and comments exposing their leftist agenda. In March, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller was forced to resign after her top fundraiser - NPR Foundation President Ron Schiller - was caught on video demeaning conservatives. An undercover video sting by James O’Keefe busted Mr. Schiller calling Tea Partyers “scary,” “seriously racist” and part of a “weird evangelical” movement. Just five months earlier, Ms. Schiller barely weathered a firestorm of protest when she summarily fired commentator Juan Williams for admitting on Fox News that he gets nervous flying on airplanes with passengers wearing Muslim attire in the post-9/11 age.

On the sting video, Mr. Schiller expressed his opinion that NPR “would be better off in the long run without federal funding.” Days later, the GOP-controlled House passed a bill permanently banning future federal funds from going to NPR to acquire radio content and prohibiting its 764 affiliate stations from using federal funds to pay NPR dues. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn, Colorado Republican, wasn’t an appropriations bill, so it didn’t affect this year’s funding but sets the legislative authorization for future government money. The Democrat-controlled Senate blocked the bill from being brought up for a vote.

NPR spent about 30 percent more than average ($131,666) in the first quarter of 2011 on in-house lobbying to push back Republican efforts to defund it. This is bad government at work. In effect, taxpayer funds are used to hire fancy lobbyists to try to get more tax dollars to support the liberal agenda of the public broadcasting network. NPR needs to get off the dole. If it wants more money, it can hold more telethons for canvas tote bags and “Les Miserables” DVDs.

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