House Committee Report Exposes USAGM’s Efforts To Shield Executive From Corruption Probe

The House Foreign Affairs Committee has released a damning report detailing the U.S. Agency for Global Media’s (USAGM) attempts to obstruct a congressional investigation into allegations of corruption involving agency executive Setareh Sieg. The report, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, reveals that senior USAGM employees spent years trying to protect Sieg from discipline despite evidence of her misuse of taxpayer funds, falsification of educational credentials, and engagement in favoritism.

The committee, led by Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), found that the allegations against Sieg, the former director of Voice of America’s Persian News Network, “have merit and are supported by substantial evidence.” This conclusion was reached despite USAGM officials’ efforts to shield Sieg from scrutiny and their pleas to drop the years-long probe.

Investigators uncovered evidence that Sieg abused her position and wasted taxpayer dollars on frivolous travel and programming, including “tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on trips that did little, if anything, to benefit the agency.” The report also confirmed that Sieg lied about holding a Ph.D. from the elite Sorbonne University in France.

The committee’s findings debunk claims that the Trump administration’s initial probe into Sieg was politically motivated, as the investigation was based on allegations made by career whistleblowers without a political party affiliation.

USAGM’s leadership, including CEO Amanda Bennett, failed to adequately justify their decision to reinstate Sieg without addressing the credible allegations against her. The report also exposed the agency’s deliberate efforts to protect Sieg, who had personal relationships with and was politically aligned with senior officials responsible for impartially supervising her.

In light of the findings, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is considering legislative measures to increase transparency at USAGM and prevent the waste of taxpayer dollars.