- The Washington Times - Monday, September 26, 2005


The Corporation for Public Broadcasting picked Republican donor Cheryl F. Halpern as chairman to replace Kenneth Tomlinson, who is under investigation for hiring a consultant to assess the political leanings of public television shows.

Mrs. Halpern, who with her husband, Fred, has given $319,250 in political contributions since 1999, was appointed to the agency’s board by President Bush in 2002. The agency uses taxpayers’ money to fund hundreds of public television and radio stations, as well as shows including “Sesame Street” and “Nova.”

At a meeting yesterday in Washington, the Republican-controlled board elected Mrs. Halpern to a one-year term as chairman. She can be re-elected to a second one-year term next year.

Mrs. Halpern, 50, told a Senate panel in 2003 that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) needs more authority to address political bias on public TV shows. She was a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America, from August 1995 to November 2002, serving with Mr. Tomlinson for part of that time.

Mr. Tomlinson’s term as CPB chairman was marked by controversy over whether he improperly injected political influence into the Washington agency, whose $400 million budget survived attempted cuts by Republican lawmakers in July. Mr. Tomlinson said he tried to balance a liberal bias at the agency.

His hiring of a consultant with conservative ties to rate the political leanings of public TV programs, including those of Bill Moyers, an outspoken liberal, is under inquiry by the agency’s inspector general. Mr. Tomlinson has acknowledged not telling the agency’s board about hiring the consultant and two Republican lobbyists.

Nearly all of Mrs. Halpern’s $319,250 in political contributions have been to Republicans, according to Washington-based PoliticalMoneyLine.com, which tracks donations.

Recipients have included President Bush’s presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004, and Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi and Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana, both Republicans. Mr. Lott and Mr. Burns sit on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which approves all CPB nominations.

Mrs. Halpern, who lives in Livingston, N.J., has described herself in campaign filings as an investor, private investigator, a homemaker and as self-employed.

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