The chairman of a House telecommunications panel said yesterday that several public broadcasting stations rented donor lists from the Clinton-Gore election campaign, violating a law that prohibits nonprofit groups from participating in political activities.
Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), head of the House Commerce Committee's subcommittee on telecommunications, released a list he said he had obtained from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting of stations that responded to a survey on donor list-swapping.
At least three stations--WCNY in central New York, WBGU in Bowling Green, Ohio, and WCET in Cincinnati--got the lists from a commercial list broker, the survey said.
The practice "shakes the foundation of public broadcasting and undermines the foundation of PBS," said Tauzin spokesman Ken Johnson.
A counsel for Clinton-Gore did not return telephone calls seeking comment, and the CPB had no comment on the list.
PBS disclosed recently that at least two dozen public television stations exchanged membership lists with political groups. Some Republican lawmakers responded by renewing calls to strip public broadcasting of its $250 million government subsidy.
CPB, which distributes federal funding to public broadcasters, issued rules yesterday that would withhold grants from stations that do not take steps to ensure the privacy of their donors.
Stu Kantor, PBS director of corporate communications, called the new guidelines "a vital and much-needed positive step to restore the trust relationship that public television and public radio have relied upon with the American people."
Tauzin's list was first reported by the Washington Times.