The Scandal-Plagued Bush Assministration, Part I: Big Bird’s Lobbyists

From Holden:

The Times discovers that Chimpy’s PBS director has been making secret payments to lobbyists.

Investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are examining $15,000 in payments to two Republican lobbyists last year that were not disclosed to the corporation’s board, people involved in the inquiry said on Wednesday.

One of the lobbyists was retained at the direction of the corporation’s Republican chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, they said, and the other at the suggestion of his Republican predecessor, who remains on the board.

The investigators, in the corporation’s inspector general’s office, are also examining $14,170 in payments made under contracts – which Mr. Tomlinson took the unusual step of signing personally, also without the knowledge of board members – with a man in Indiana who provided him with reports about the political leanings of guests on the “Now” program when its host was Bill Moyers.


One of the lobbyists, Brian Darling, was paid $10,000 for his insights into Senator Conrad Burns, a Montana Republican who sponsored the provision [related to the PBS board]. This year, he briefly served as a top aide to Senator Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida, but resigned after the disclosure that he had written a memorandum describing how to exploit politically the life-support case of Terri Schiavo. [emphasis added]


The corporation is financed entirely by taxpayer dollars and is supposed to be a political buffer between lawmakers and public television and radio. For years, it has told groups representing the stations that federal law prohibits it from retaining lobbyists to approach lawmakers or push for legislation.


The inspector general is looking at contracts signed by Mr. Tomlinson with a man named Fred Mann to monitor the political leanings of “Now.” The inquiry was requested by two Democrats, Representatives John D. Dingell of Michigan and David R. Obey of Wisconsin, after they learned about the monitoring.

Officials said the inspector general was examining whether Mr. Tomlinson, as chairman of the corporation, had the authority to approve the contract or the payments.