Trump Nominee to Lead U.S. Media Agency Gets Committee Approval

(Bloomberg) -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the agency in charge of Voice of America on a 12-10 party-line vote Thursday.

Michael Pack, a media executive who is close to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, was nominated by Trump in June 2018. Democrats on the committee have raised concerns about financial issues dating to his time managing a nonprofit organization called the Public Media Lab.

His nomination now goes to the Senate floor.

A committee vote on Pack’s nomination scheduled for last week had been postponed. Then, on Thursday, the District of Columbia attorney general’s office told the panel that Pack was under investigation to determine whether he misused funds from the Public Media Lab for his personal benefit.

The committee’s Democratic members wrote to Chairman Jim Risch on Wednesday objecting to the plan to move forward with the vote. The Democrats said Pack’s “business dealings are the target of an active law enforcement investigation” and “reportedly the subject of law enforcement subpoenas.”

“Moving forward under these circumstances is completely unacceptable and undermines the committee and Senate interests in transparency and the rule of law,” wrote the 10 Democrats, led by ranking member Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

Menendez said that, following Pack’s confirmation hearing last September, a committee review of public records showed 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.”

The delay in action on Pack’s nomination to head the U.S. Agency for Global Media, as well as those of other nominees, triggered an angry response from Trump even before the latest development. He cited Pack at an April event where he called Voice of America “disgusting toward our country” and threatened to try to force Congress to adjourn so he could make recess appointments without going through the confirmation process.

Conservatives, including Helle Dale at the Heritage Foundation, had complained that Voice of America and its parent agency were run by Obama administration holdovers who had tilted its reporting against Trump.

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