Democratic members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S. broadcasts to the world’s trouble spots, failed last week to oust Republican Chairman Ken Tomlinson, a staunch conservative.
The board failed to approve two anti-Tomlinson resolutions on party-line votes. The first would have forced Tomlinson’s resignation, the second would have stripped him of all authority. Incredibly, Tomlinson could not even vote on the resolutions. The BBG’s general counsel informed him that to do so could amount to a criminal violation.
The votes came in the wake of an unpublished State Department inspector general report alleging Tomlinson misdeeds—none of which the Justice Department found worthy of prosecution. Although a summary of the IG report was leaked to the press by Rep. Howard Berman (D.-Calif.), a Tomlinson enemy, Tomlinson and the other board members have not yet seen the document. Republican board member Blanquita Cullom said the Democrats’ attempts to oust Tomlinson were “clearly a partisan effort … to usurp the authority of President Bush and the Senate (which confirmed Tomlinson’s nomination by unanimous vote).”
The anti-Tomlinson moves were orchestrated by liberal board member D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, a major fundraiser for President Clinton who has given nearly $100,000 to Democratic candidates and organizations since 1999.
Tomlinson adamantly rejected the IG charges, saying that the campaign against him was “inspired by partisan divisions inside the Broadcasting Board of Governors.” Those divisions have been evident for some time.
Joe Biden’s Role
On June 24, 2005, Robert Novak reported that Sen. Joe Biden (D.-Del.) was blocking the confirmation of a non-controversial nominee, Dina Habib Powell, to be assistant secretary of State with key responsibilities for the Middle East. Reason for Biden’s fury: The White House had refused to re-appoint California billionaire Norm Pattiz to a Democratic seat on the BBG. Pattiz had violated an unwritten but long-standing Senate rule that a minority appointee cannot attack a President who appointed him. (Pattiz was a signatory to a 2004 campaign ad in the New York Times denouncing President Bush and urging his defeat.)
Pattiz was a huge Democratic donor ($360,000 in 2000 alone) who was rewarded with an overnight stay at the Clinton White House and an appointment to the BBG. In 1992, Novak reported, Pattiz’s Westwood radio conglomerate was fined $75,000 for offering to illegally reimburse employees who contributed to the short-lived 1988 presidential campaign of … Joe Biden. Of the two House Democrats who demanded the IG investigation of Tomlinson, one, Tom Lantos (D.-Calif.) is a former Biden staffer and the other, Berman, is a political intimate of Pattiz.