STATEMENT BY SENATOR BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ)
May 14, 2020
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following statement on the nomination of Michael Pack to be CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Mr. Pack’s nomination has been held up due to serious and outstanding concerns about inappropriate and potentially unlawful activity involving his business dealings.
“Today the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia (OAG) informed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that it is actively investigating a nonprofit organization, the Public Media Lab, run by Michael Pack, President Trump’s nominee for CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media. The OAG is investigating whether Mr. Pack’s use of his nonprofit’s funds was unlawful and whether he improperly used those funds to benefit himself. The OAG is also requesting documents from the Committee in furtherance of its investigation. Following his confirmation hearing in September 2019, a Committee review of public records revealed 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.”
“For nearly eight months, Mr. Pack has refused to provide the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with documents it requested that get to the heart of the matter that the OAG is now investigating, or to correct false statements he made to the IRS. His steadfast refusal to honor the commitment to transparency that he gave the Committee at his nomination hearing forces us to ask whether Mr. Pack was actively hiding wrongdoing from the Committee. Chairman Risch never should have put Mr. Pack up for a committee vote in light of Mr. Pack’s refusal to come clean with the Senate on his vetting issues. Taking note of what we now know—that there is an active OAG investigation into Mr. Pack’s business dealings—I urge Chairman Risch to hit pause on this nomination. I plan to do everything in my power to cooperate with this critical law enforcement request, and I urge Chairman Risch to do the same.”
Following a pressure campaign from President Trump and his allies, Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idaho) scheduled a committee business meeting for this morning to force a vote on Mr. Pack’s nomination. The business meeting was abruptly postponed late last night following multiple objections from members on both sides of the aisle. Last week, the Democratic Senators wrote to Chairman Risch formally expressing their opposition to his plans to convene the business meeting over their objections and without including any major legislation related to fighting COVID-19 on the agenda.