- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 12-10 along partisan lines to advance Michael Pack’s nomination to be CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media over loud Democratic objections.

The U.S. Agency for Global Media was formerly known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors and has responsibility for state-run media around the world, including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. An official appointed by President Obama has led the agency throughout President Trump’s tenure and Mr. Pack’s nomination was pending for nearly two years before Thursday’s vote.

The Foreign Relations Committee meeting was broadcast only over audio because of coronavirus social-distancing concerns and the committee’s Democrats unsuccessfully moved eight different times to again delay Mr. Pack’s nomination.

Sen. Robert Menendez, the committee’s top-ranking Democrat, raised issues with Mr. Pack’s taxes as the reason for Democrats’ latest objections. Mr. Menendez attempted to speak over Sen. Jim Risch, the committee chairman, on the audio feed to raise objections from the start of the meeting.

“In the end [Mr. Pack] never engaged with the committee in good faith,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “His responses to my questions were perfunctory and self-serving.”

Mr. Menendez said he has concerns about the relationship between Mr. Pack’s for-profit company and a nonprofit, and pointed to an ongoing investigation from the District of Columbia attorney general to demonstrate the seriousness of his concerns. Mr. Menendez acknowledged that he personally alerted the D.C. attorney general’s office to Mr. Pack’s alleged tax issues, and Mr. Menendez said he was told that the local officials were already aware of the potential tax troubles.

Mr. Risch said he received a letter from the D.C. attorney general’s office “on the eve of the last meeting” that claimed an investigation was ongoing, so he delayed the committee’s actions.

On Thursday, the Idaho Republican said he would follow the format the ethics committee takes with similar concerns, which was to delay a nomination if the U.S. Department of Justice asked the committee to stand down. Since DOJ did not raise concerns, Mr. Risch said, the committee proceeded to a vote.

“I note that this is a particularly partisan matter, we are going to consider the nomination of Michael Pack, which has been pending for just shy of two years and the chairman believes it is time to move forward on this,” Mr. Risch said.

Mr. Pack is president of Manifold Productions and previously served as president and CEO of the Claremont Institute. A documentarian, he directed “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ life that debuted on PBS this week.

Mr. Pack’s conservative connections, including to former White House strategist Steve Bannon, helped make Mr. Pack a lightning rod of criticism from Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer labeled advancing Mr. Pack’s nomination a “gross misuse of power” by Republicans, during remarks on the Senate floor on Thursday.

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