Voice of America (VOA), the taxpayer-funded federal government media network, is obstructing a congressional investigation into “waste, fraud, and abuse,” consisting of partisan advocacy in favor of Joe Biden and abuse of a visa program to “onboard foreign nationals,” according to a member of your house Foreign Affairs Committee.
The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which supervises VOA and other federal government media outlets, has actually blocked numerous congressional examinations into its misallocation of taxpayer funds and inclined coverage, including suppressing the Iranian regime’s mass human rights abuses. A federal government guard dog has actually likewise mentioned USAGM for stopping working to appropriately veterinarian 40 percent of its labor force, that includes those with security clearances and numerous foreign nationals, consisting of Iranians.
Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.), a Foreign Affairs Committee member, in March called on VOA and USAGM to turn over reams of details that he stated would shed a light on the broadcasting giant’s abuse of taxpayer funds. The firm has actually stopped working to do so, sustaining allegations it is attempting to conceal this info.
Perry is pushing the Foreign Affairs Committee’s chairman and ranking member to carry USAGM’s leaders prior to Congress for a hearing on the firm’s impropriety. The legislator, who states USAGM “has become a microcosm of what is wrong with the federal government,” wants the hearing to take place no later than July 14.
“The last time the House Foreign Affairs Committee held an oversight hearing on USAGM was September, 24, 2020, to satiate the petty vendettas of self-aggrandizing agency officials who considered themselves above such ‘antiquated and irrelevant’ concepts as Congressional oversight,” Perry wrote this week to his colleagues, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. “Instead of using the hearing opportunity to meaningfully address the egregious security lapses at the Agency, this Committee effectively allowed Taxpayer resources to be expended on a glorified group therapy session for ineffective and/or corrupt government personnel.”
USAGM, and VOA in particular, have actually been dogged by allegations that they prefer Democrats in their protection and utilize federal government resources to advance this program, in offense of their charter. While the Trump administration tried to root out corruption at USAGM, specifically VOA Persia, these efforts stopped when the Biden administration took office. In addition to reporting censorship of stories important to the Iranian regime, whistleblowers have described being harassed and targeted for trying to expose corruption at the firm.
USAGM’s Persian News Network is at the heart of Perry’s congressional probe due to its 2015 efforts to get unfavorable remarks about then-candidate Donald Trump. In 2020, VOA’s Urdu Service released “what was effectively a campaign video on behalf of then-candidate Joe Biden,” according to Perry, who keeps these partisan efforts make up an offense of the company’s federal government charter.
VOA Persia likewise has actually been under a microscopic lens from Republican legislators, company whistleblowers, and activists in the Iranian-American neighborhood for its pro-Iran protection and recorded efforts to reduce efforts by company reformers. Perry is among numerous Republican legislators leading a charge to require USAGM to openly represent these allegations, which has actually pestered it for many years.
Setareh Derakhshesh Sieg, VOA Persia’s previous service chief, was implicated by the Trump administration in misappropriating almost $1 million in funds and misrepresenting her scholastic qualifications. When the previous administration tried to fire Sieg as a result of these allegations, the Office of Special Counsel stepped in to secure Sieg and make sure the effort was not politically inspired. Sieg was eventually cleared of misdeed and not fired. Republican politicians state Sieg is likewise responsible for turning VOA Persia into a propaganda outlet for the Iranian program. She has actually been implicated in prohibiting Iranian program critics from the network and developing an internal “black list” of voices who need to be censored. Under Sieg’s period, VOA Persia has actually likewise reduced stories on the Iranian routine’s human rights abuses, according to Iranian dissidents who track the organization and released pieces that enhance routine propaganda, especially about the 2015 nuclear accord.
“There are numerous documented examples of this rogue agency’s formal cooperation in waste, fraud, and abuse, and it’s long past time its leaders answer for it,” Perry told the Free Beacon.
A minimum of 40 percent of USAGM’s labor force was “not properly vetted prior to being hired,” according to an evaluation from the Office of Personnel Management and divulged by Perry in his letter to committee leaders. Due to the fact that VOA utilizes ratings of foreign nationals through a U.S. visa program that is under analysis, this finding is especially bothering to congressional oversight authorities. In addition, USAGM has actually released top-secret security clearances to “dozens of individuals,” raising questions about whether those who got clearances were fit to hold them.
USAGM likewise refused to offer Congress a 2021 internal evaluation of the agency’s operations. That report, which was finished right before Biden took office, described functional failures, according to Perry, who revealed parts of it after USAGM rebuffed his oversight efforts.
Bryan Leib, executive director of Iranian Americans for Liberty, an anti-regime advocacy group that has actually been important of VOA’s protection, stated the worldwide media outlet “has operated for years without being accountable to the very body that is responsible for their oversight.”
A public hearing, Leib said, “is long overdue and shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”