According to USAGM’s website, it is a “networked global media agency” made up of five organizations that “complement and reinforce one another in a shared mission vital to U.S. national interests.” The agency’s mission is “to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.”
According to the complaint, each of the whistleblowers made protected disclosures “regarding their concerns about official actions primarily taken by Michael Pack,” USAGM’s Chief Executive Officer since June of this year. The whistleblowers allege that “Mr. Pack has engaged in conduct that violates federal law and/or USAGM regulations, and that constitutes an abuse of authority and gross mismanagement.”
The whistleblowers also accuse Pack of retaliating against them because they hold political views that Pack does not share, “which is a violation of the Hatch Act.” One senior USAGM official allegedly told one of the whistleblowers that “Mr. Pack or one of Mr. Pack’s close aides had ordered him to conduct research on the voting history of USAGM employees…and that the research was to be utilized in evaluating career civil servants’ abilities to carry out the duties of their positions,” according to the complaint.
One of the whistleblowers also alleges that Mr. Pack “‘crossed the firewall’ established to protect the journalistic independence of USAGM’s news networks from interference or influence by political officials.” The complaint points to an Urdu journalist who worked for USAGM and was allegedly removed because Mr. Pack didn’t share the same “political viewpoint of a piece on former Vice President Biden.” Another whistleblower alleges that Mr. Pack and USAGM’s Acting Vice President for Legal Mora Namdar violated the Anti-Deficiency Act when they were “pressuring [the whistleblower’s] office to withhold already appropriated funding from USAGM’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting,” according to the complaint.
Each of the whistleblowers was put on administrative leave on August 12, 2020. The same day they were each “notified of the suspension to [their] access to classified information,” according to the complaint. The complaint alleges that the decisions made towards these 6 whistleblowers “exemplifies the very concept of retaliation.”
USAGM responded to the whistleblower complaint “in an unsigned email sent from the agency’s main public affairs account” to POLITICO, saying: “The allegations listed in the complaint are without merit and completely false. All actions taken by the U.S. Agency for Global Media are in accordance with the law.”