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Senators to review federal media agency funding after CEO Michael Pack purges staff

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Key Points
  • Sens. Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and a bipartisan group of senators say they are planning to review the U.S. Global Agency for Media's funding after its CEO fired longtime agency officials.
  • Beyond voicing their dismay over the decision to sweep out career officials, the senators said they plan to review the agency's funding in the wake of his decision. 
  • This is the first sign of Democrats and Republicans coming together to potentially rein in Pack's methods of running USAGM. 
Michael Pack
Source: US Senate

Senators from both parties are planning to review the funding of a federal media agency after its CEO purged the heads of the organization. 

The senators co-authored a letter to Michael Pack, the CEO, on Tuesday, voicing their concerns about his recent move to fire or demote longtime leaders of the entities under the U.S. Global Agency for Media, including those who ran Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Network and the Open Technology Fund.

The letter was signed by GOP Sens. Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins and Jerry Moran, as well as Democratic Sens. Richard Durbin, Patrick Leahy and Chris Van Hollen. 

"These actions, which came without any consultation with congress, let along notification, raise serious questions about the future of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) under your leadership," the letter said.

Beyond voicing their dismay to the decision to sweep out career officials, they also said they plan to review the agency's funding in the wake of his decision. 

"Given the bipartisan and bicameral concern with recent events, we intend to do a thorough review of USAGM's funding," the letter explained. 

This is the first sign of Democrats and Republicans coming together to potentially reign in Pack's methods of running USAGM. 

Rubio has a connection to the former head of the Radio Free Europe. Jamie Fly, the former president of the network, was once an aide to the Florida Republican. 

Pack has been under scrutiny by congressional leaders ever since he was confirmed in June. President Donald Trump, who nominated him, publicly pushed Republican lawmakers to vote in favor of Pack's nomination, while blasting Voice of America, another entity under USAGM. 

Sen. Bob Menendez and Rep. Eliot Engel have often led the charge against Pack for Democrats, with the New York congressman calling for Pack to attend a hearing this month. 

Pack has moved ahead with installing interim heads of the USAGM media groups, including Jeffrey Shapiro, who was reportedly an ally of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and now leads the Office of Cuba Broadcasting