House Committee Uncovers Corruption At Federal Media Agency

A House committee investigation has revealed corruption within the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), responsible for nearly $1 billion in government broadcasting funds. The report, released after a three-year investigation, highlights improper actions surrounding the rehiring of Setareh Derakhshesh Sieg, a former Voice of America (VOA) Persian service manager.

Sieg was initially fired at the end of the Trump administration for falsifying her resume and misusing funds. However, she was rehired the day after President Biden took office. The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s report accuses USAGM of attempting to cover up the mishandling of Sieg’s case, failing to investigate internal whistleblower complaints about her false claims of having a doctorate from France’s Sorbonne University and the misuse of VOA funds.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, called for Sieg’s immediate removal, stating that she has misrepresented her credentials and abused taxpayer money. He emphasized the importance of maintaining the integrity of U.S. broadcasting, especially given the agency’s significant budget request for fiscal 2025.

USAGM CEO Amanda Bennett refuted the committee’s allegations, asserting that the agency conducted a thorough investigation and stands by its findings. She condemned the committee’s report as an attempt to malign dedicated civil servants.

The committee’s investigation also revealed that Sieg’s educational claims were false, as confirmed by the French government. Additionally, it accused her of favoritism and allowing excessive overtime pay to certain employees.

The report underscores the need for better vetting processes and greater accountability within USAGM. As investigations continue, McCaul stressed that uncovering such corruption is crucial for upholding the democratic values of the United States.