View Full Version : Former Public Broadcasting Chairman Broke Rules, Ethics Code To Support GOP

11-15-2005, 08:52 PM
Former CPB Head Reportedly Broke Rules, Ethics Code


By Matea Gold, Times Staff Writer - (Gold9472: No relation.)

WASHINGTON -- The former chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting repeatedly violated the organization's contracting rules and code of ethics in his efforts to promote conservatives in the system, according to an internal investigation released today.

The 42-page report — the culmination of a six-month investigation by Kenneth A. Konz, the corporation's inspector general — described former Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson as a rogue politico who overstepped the boundaries of his position to right what he viewed as a liberal tilt in public broadcasting.

Tomlinson, who resigned his board position this month in advance of the report, denied any wrongdoing in a statement included in the report, calling the charges "malicious and irresponsible."

The investigation was requested in the spring by Reps. David Obey (D-Wis.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.).

Konz and his nine-member staff documented numerous occasions in which Tomlinson circumvented the corporation's contracting procedures in trying to hire his own handpicked candidates to study the political balance in public broadcasting.

According to the report, Tomlinson failed to get board approval for his hiring of a consultant, Fred Mann, to monitor the political leanings of the guests on "Now With Bill Moyers" and three other programs. Mann, who divided guests into categories such as "pro-Bush" and "anti-Bush," was paid $20,200 for an analysis that was "not sophisticated," the report said.

Tomlinson also had inappropriate involvement in the development of "The Journal Editorial Report," a public affairs program that began airing on PBS in September 2004, Konz wrote.

The inspector general also uncovered numerous e-mails between Tomlinson and White House staff about the hiring of Patricia Harrison, a former Republican Party chairwoman, as the new CPB president.

"While cryptic in nature, their timing and subject matter gives the appearance that the former chairman was strongly motivated by political considerations in filling the president/CEO position," Konz wrote.

In addition, Konz found that a candidate for a senior management position at the corporation was asked by a board member about her political contributions. The inspector general could not determine whether the question was posed by Tomlinson or another board member.

In response to the report, Chairwoman Cheryl Halpern called the findings "bracing." She and the rest of the board unanimously approved the creation of board subcommittees aimed at providing better oversight of contracting and hiring.

"These are bold and decisive actions to respond to important and significant issues," Halpern said at a board meeting held this morning at the corporation's Washington headquarters.

Tomlinson served five years on the board, including two as chairman.

His aggressive efforts to promote more politically conservative voices within the public broadcasting system alarmed many broadcasters.

On Nov. 3, the board released a statement saying that Tomlinson was resigning. The statement did not detail Konz's initial findings, which had been presented at a three-day closed meeting held at an undisclosed location in the Washington area. But it noted that Tomlinson strongly disputed his conclusions.

Throughout the investigation Tomlinson refused to comment on specifics, but defended his actions broadly, saying that he was trying to strengthen public broadcasting by broadening its appeal.

Democratic lawmakers and liberal watchdog groups have accused him of undermining the corporation's role as a political buffer between Congress and public broadcasting.