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Tomlinson May Be Going, but He's Staying

Karen Hughes, center, was called a
Karen Hughes, center, was called a "compassionate and generous person" by a State Department colleague who thought a recent magazine article mischaracterized her. (Susan Biddle - Twp)

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By Al Kamen
Friday, January 12, 2007

Broadcasting Board of Governors Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson has asked President Bush not to nominate him for another term -- probably a good idea, because there was no chance he was going to get confirmed anyway.

But Tomlinson, who got some bad publicity recently when the State Department's inspector general criticized him for overbilling the government and for giving a friend a job, may be around for many months, since he told Bush he would stay until a successor is confirmed.

As it turns out, everyone on the eight-member BBG (there's one opening) is serving on an expired four-year term: Their terms expired in the past few years, but the law lets them continue until replaced. On Tuesday, Bush nominated for new terms his former media adviser, Mark McKinnon, and Washington lawyer D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, but neither is to replace Tomlinson.

Tomlinson told Bush it had been an honor. "However, I have concluded that it would be far more constructive to write a book about my experiences rather than to seek to continue government service," he said in his letter to the president.

Given the critical need for U.S. image improvement abroad, and the BBG's role in overseeing the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the Cuba broadcasting operation, that must be one juicy book he's thinking about writing.

Well, maybe not. It'll be a rebuttal of the inspector general's allegations, he said yesterday, and about "the criminalization of politics" in Washington, covering his 28-year career here, going back to his days with Reader's Digest, then to running the VOA and other jobs.

So get those résumés in to White House personnel. The broadcasting board's chairmanship is only half-time, with a nice office, and is paid at the rate of $143,000 a year. We are assured the Senate will immediately confirm almost anyone picked to replace Tomlinson. Forty-eight hours, tops.

The Greens Are Seeing Red

Meanwhile, the White House has gotten kudos this week from libs for dropping four especially controversial judicial nominees. But enviros are ripping over some nominees to key environmental posts, zeroing in on Susan E. Dudley, director of the anti-regulatory Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Her nomination to be regulatory chief at the Office of Management and Budget, a pivotal post for enviro issues, died last year in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Even Republicans distanced themselves. Sen. John Warner (Va.), who introduced Dudley at her Senate confirmation hearing, quickly went over her résumé, noted she'd been controversial, told her to stand up for her views and said, "I wish you luck, and you're on your own."

Dudley doesn't stand a prayer of confirmation with the Democrats in charge. Enviros say the plan is to put her on the payroll as an adviser and then, at the first opportunity, give her a recess appointment. Such appointments would now be good until the end of 2008, or nearly the end of the administration.

Enviros are also keying on the nomination of William Wehrum, who has been acting head of the air-pollution program at the Environmental Protection Agency since 2005. Wehrum, according to Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Watch, has been "a principal architect" of administration efforts to weaken standards for smog, soot and mercury. Wehrum is also reported to be likely to get a recess appointment.

Another top recess-appointment prospect is John Correll, who's been renominated as director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement at the Interior Department. Enviros and the United Mine Workers don't like his views on environmental and safety standards, O'Donnell noted in an article for TomPaine.com.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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