CUSIB asks McConnell to keep Ashe as BBG member

CUSIB.org - The Committee for U.S. International BroadcastingIn a letter to Senator Mitch McConnell, the independent and nonpartisan Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) asked the Senate Minority Leader to retain Governor Victor Ashe’s membership on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

There has been speculation that some International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executives, who are deeply unhappy with Ashe’s efforts to hold them accountable for waste and mismanagement at the agency, have lobbied the White House to get him removed from the bipartisan BBG board even though he is currently its only Republican member (by law there should be four).

May 18, 2013

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
United States Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Dear Senator McConnell:

On behalf of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting, we respectfully urge you to retain Governor Victor Ashe’s membership on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

Although we were encouraged to hear that President Obama will submit Ambassador Ryan Crocker as a nominee to serve as a Governor on the BBG, we were appalled to hear that the White House has chosen to replace Victor Ashe on the BBG board. Ambassador Crocker’s appointment, as well as the appointment of Matt Armstrong, could fill the two vacancies that remain, which is fine. However, the loss of Victor Ashe at this time would be a huge blow to U.S. international broadcasting at a time of increasing risks abroad to national security.

Victor Ashe is a champion of media freedom, free speech, transparency, and good governance. He turned out to be right on every issue of mismanagement and waste he has raised. Together with Governors Susan McCue and Michael Meehan, and with the support of Secretary of State John Kerry’s designee Secretary Sonenshine, Victor Ashe led the fight to save RFE/RL’s mission and reputation. He is a hero to rank and file journalists and other federal and non federal employees. He has won admiration and support of the BBG employee union for his efforts to reform the agency’s bureaucracy at the International Broadcasting Bureau. His efforts demonstrate how bi-partisanship can work effectively.

Replacing Victor Ashe on the BBG board at this time is incomprehensible and looks to many as an attempt by bureaucrats and big financial political contributors to get rid of a Governor who annoyed them with his demands for accountability, transparency, and good performance for American taxpayers.

We at the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting remain deeply concerned that some BBG members and nominees, whose private media companies for which they work are doing big business in China and Russia, have a conflict of interest with promoting media freedom, which annoys governments that control business access for such media companies. Victor Ashe, and for that matter the majority of current BBG members, have no such conflict of interest issues. We believe that in your role providing “advice and consent” for nominees subject to US Senate ratification, maintaining Victor Ashe as a Governor on the BBG is wholly appropriate.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Respectfully,

Ann Noonan, Executive Director and co-founder [phone: 646-251-6069]
Ted Lipien, Director and co-founder [phone: 415-793-1642]

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) is a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization working to strengthen free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries with restricted and developing media environments.

CUSIB Letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell (PDF)

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