Reps. Barton, Burgess request probe of NPR funding, Williams firing

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Texas Republican Reps. Joe Barton and Michael Burgess have called for a Government Accountability Office investigation of NPR’s funding. In a letter to the GAO, first reported Nov. 18 by Broadcasting & Cable, the lawmakers asked government investigators to follow the trail of federal funding in public radio — including CPB grants awarded to NPR and federal aid to local stations that may be re-directed to NPR.

They pose five questions, including whether any federal funds pay for program production or the salaries of NPR personalities or editors, and whether NPR used federal aid to manage its contractual relationship with former news analyst Juan Williams or to pay for the internal review of his dismissal. They also ask investigators to examine and report details of the ethics code violations that NPR execs cited when they terminated Williams’s contract.

The lawmakers write that the Williams dismissal “may reflect a tendency on the part of NPR management to use its ethics rules to silence employees,” according to The Hill.

Rep. Barton is top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over CPB. Rep. Burgess, who also serves on the committee, chairs its subcommittee on oversight and investigations.