Public Broadcasting Chief Cited for Misusing Funds

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The chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors misused government money on several occasions, overbilling for his time and funneling unauthorized contracts to a friend, State Department investigators concluded.

According to a summary of a report by the State Department's inspector general released Tuesday, Kenneth Tomlinson misused government funds for two years as chairman of the organization, which oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and other U.S. government broadcasting abroad.

Tomlinson stepped down last fall as a board member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund public television, amid allegations of promoting conservative programming.

The State Department investigation found that Tomlinson, as a political appointee to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, signed invoices worth about $245,000 for a friend without the knowledge of other board members or staff.

Tomlinson also used the board's resources to support his private horse racing operation and overbilled the organization for his time, in some instances billing both the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the same time worked.

State investigators note in the summary of the report that the U.S. attorney's office in Washington had decided a criminal investigation was not warranted. A civil investigation, however, on charges stemming from hiring his friend as a contractor was still pending, the summary noted.

Three Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Chris Dodd and Reps. Howard Berman and Tom Lantos, requested the inquiry last year. In a statement, Dodd called the findings "extremely disturbing."

"Even more disturbing is that the president has yet to demand Mr. Tomlinson's resignation, and the Justice Department has apparently declined to pursue a criminal investigation of Mr. Tomlinson's actions," said Dodd, D-Conn., in a statement.

Dodd, Lantos, D-Calif., and Berman, D-Calif., sent Bush a letter Tuesday urging him to remove Tomlinson from his position.

"The results of the IG investigation leave no doubt that Mr. Tomlinson stepped well beyond those boundaries and violated the public trust," the lawmakers wrote.

The complete report, marked "for official use only," has not been released.

Tomlinson said in a statement that he believed the investigation results were "inspired by partisan divisions inside the BBG."

Regarding the double billing, Tomlinson said he was in the unusual position of serving as chairman of two boards at the same time but still made "diligent efforts" to properly bill each board.

On charges of using government funds for his horse farm, Tomlinson said: "I am confident that I spent far more time on broadcasting responsibilities at my farm and my private residences than I spent on my horses at the office."

Tomlinson did not address in his statement the allegation of hiring a friend as a contractor.