Trump Nominee to Lead U.S. Media Agency Is Under Investigation
President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the agency in charge of Voice of America is under investigation by the attorney general for the District of Columbia, a Democratic senator said on Thursday.
The nomination of Michael Pack, a media executive close to one-time Trump adviser Steve Bannon, seemed, after a two-year delay, to be on a path to be cleared by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday, followed by a likely confirmation vote by the full chamber.
Then the D.C. attorney general’s office told the committee on Thursday that Pack was under investigation to determine whether he had misused funds from a nonprofit organization — the Public Media Lab — for his personal benefit, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey said in a statement. The committee meeting was postponed.
“Following his confirmation hearing in September 2019, a committee review of public records revealed that the Public Media Lab received several millions of dollars in grants and transferred those funds exclusively to Mr. Pack’s for-profit film production company,” according to Menendez, the panel’s top Democrat.
A call to Pack’s company, Manifold Productions, was not immediately returned.
Menendez said the D.C. attorney general’s office is requesting documents from the committee. The senator also said Pack had refused to provide the committee with documents related to the matter.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine’s spokesman, David Mayorga, confirmed the investigation but declined to comment further in an email Thursday evening.
Conservatives, including Helle Dale at the Heritage Foundation, had complained that Voice of America and its parent, the U.S. Agency for Global Media, was run by Obama administration holdovers and had tilted its reporting against President Donald Trump.
Trump nominated Pack in June 2018 to lead the Agency for Global Media, but the nomination has been stalled over concerns about what his leadership might mean for editorial independence at the agency. That prompted critical comments from the president.
“If you heard what’s coming out of the Voice of America, it’s disgusting,” Trump said in April. “What — things they say are disgusting toward our country. And Michael Pack would get in and he’d do a great job, but he’s been waiting now for two years. Can’t get him approved.”
Trump at one point threatened to adjourn Congress in order to push through recess appointments, including Pack’s.
Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, declined to comment through a spokeswoman.
“Chairman Risch never should have put Mr. Pack up for a committee vote in light of Mr. Pack’s refusal to come clean with the Senate on his vetting issues,” Menendez said in the statement.
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