WASHINGTON, DC — Citing her violation of the state Code of Governmental Ethics and payment of a $10,000 fine, Accuracy in Media (AIM) today urged a federal inquiry into whether Beth Courtney should continue as a member of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
“The new spirit of Washington demands clean hands and avoidance of financial conflicts of interest,” stated AIM editor Cliff Kincaid. “Courtney’s admitted violation of state law raises questions about whether she is in compliance with the ethics code governing the CPB.”
The federally-funded CPB operates on a $400 million annual budget and underwrites public TV and radio programs. Courtney runs Louisiana Public Television and is the public TV representative on the CPB board.
The CPB Code of Ethics and Business Conduct says that “Each employee shall act at all times with integrity and perform his or her duties in compliance with all applicable Federal, state and local laws, and CPB policies and procedures. Each employee shall discharge his or her duties in an honest, candid, and thorough manner.”
In a decision handed down on January 12, Courtney and her husband were found guilty by the Louisiana Board of Ethics of violating conflict of interest laws and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. One violation involved receiving payments from a private company doing business with a Louisiana public broadcasting entity that Courtney ran. Courtney did not contest the findings.
But she said “absolutely not” when asked by AIM if she would step down from the CPB board. “It has nothing to do with my service on the CPB board,” she insisted. Courtney added that the “technical violation” involved a subcontractor, was not intentional, and didn’t involve any taxpayer money. “It’s hardly worthy of gigantic follow-up,” she said.
But AIM’s Kincaid said that Courtney’s position will be hard to maintain in light of the new ethical climate in Washington, D.C., and the plain language of the CPB ethics code. He asked, “If Congress is going to clean up its act through ethics reform, shouldn’t the CPB?”
Accuracy In Media (AIM) is a non-profit, grassroots citizens watchdog of the news media that critiques botched and bungled news stories and sets the record straight on important issues that have received slanted coverage.