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Krongard: I Didn't Tip Off Tomlinson to Inquiry -- Just His Deputy
Spencer Ackerman –
Leave aside the drama from today's House oversight committee hearing about State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard's brother joining the advisory board of a huge State Department contractor. Another issue that came up: Krongard is accused of improperly tipping off ex-Broadcasting Board of Governors chief Ken Tomlinson -- a close Karl Rove ally and muckly fellow -- in 1995 that Tomlinson was under investigation for double-billing the State Department for hours worked. The charge was included in Rep. Henry Waxman's bill of particulars (pdf) against Krongard issued in September.
Krongard initially told Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) that he didn't have any contact with Tomlinson. But in follow-up questioning with Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), he said his temporary assistant accidentally faxed specific complaints about Tomlinson from a whistleblower over to the BBG's executive director. It was all a mistake, Krongard said, because he had just meant to send the BBG a letter from Congress alerting BBG to the investigation.
Only sending the letter from Congress is exactly what Waxman initially faulted. His bill of complaints against Krongard stated that sending the BBG the Congressional letter "was inconsistent with standard investigative procedures, and, according to multiple sources, jeopardized the investigation." What's more, Waxman didn't buy Krongard's distinction between sending the fax to the executive director and communicating with Tomlinson, which was the basis for his answer to Shays. Krongard, for his part, said there was no way he could have conducted any kind of inquiry if he hadn't reached out to the BBG executive director for basic information.