Report Reveals USAGM’s Attempts To Obstruct Congressional Probe Into Corruption Allegations

A report released by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday has shed light on the U.S. Agency for Global Media’s (USAGM) efforts to hinder a congressional investigation into allegations of corruption involving agency executive Setareh Sieg. The committee, chaired by Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), found that USAGM officials attempted to shield Sieg from scrutiny and even pleaded with lawmakers to end the probe as investigators uncovered evidence of misconduct.

The report, which was reviewed in advance by the Washington Free Beacon, substantiates claims that Sieg misused taxpayer funds for personal travel, falsified her educational credentials, and engaged in favoritism that benefited certain employees at the expense of the public. Despite USAGM’s attempts to protect Sieg, the committee concluded that the allegations against her “have merit and are supported by substantial evidence.”

Investigators discovered that Sieg spent “tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on trips that did little, if anything, to benefit the agency” and lied about holding a Ph.D. from the prestigious Sorbonne University in France. The report also revealed that Sieg allowed favored employees to collect excessive overtime pay and authorized an unqualified producer to spend significant amounts of taxpayer money on trips that did not benefit the agency or its mission.

The committee’s findings contradict claims that the initial probe into Sieg during the Trump administration 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, repeatedly failed to justify their decision to reinstate Sieg without addressing the credible allegations against her. The report also highlighted 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.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is considering legislative remedies to increase transparency at USAGM and prevent the waste of taxpayer dollars in light of the findings.