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Fla. gay Republicans hail Romney victory

Log Cabin warns of ‘anti-gay pandering’



Mitt Romney won a decisive victory in Florida this week, as Newt Gingrich appeared to lose momentum. (Blade file photo by MIchael Key)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Gay Republicans joined many of their straight counterparts in Florida Tuesday night in congratulating former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for his decisive victory in the Florida Republican primary.

But R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the national Log Cabin Republicans, while also congratulating Romney, cautioned him against engaging in “anti-gay pandering or divisive social politics.”

Cooper told the Blade his comment was a reference to statements Romney has made in news media interviews over the past several months in which he appeared to be appealing to conservative voters hostile to gay rights.

Officials with Log Cabin’s chapters in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa areas said support for Romney was strong among LGBT Republicans in the state. Romney won by a lopsided margin in a Jan. 28 straw poll of Log Cabin members at an informal gay Republican caucus in Miami.

“I’m pleased that Romney won,” said Andy Eddy, board member of Log Cabin Republicans of Broward County, which includes the city of Fort Lauderdale and the nearby gay enclave Wilton Manors.

“Many of our members support him and believe he has the best chance of beating Obama,” he said.

With 100 percent of the election precincts counted, Romney captured 46 percent of the vote. His closest rival, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich received 32 percent, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum received 13 percent, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul received 7 percent.

In Florida’s winner take all primary, Romney captured 50 delegates, giving him a boost going into a series of upcoming primaries and caucuses leading up to Super Tuesday on March 6, when 10 states hold primaries.

“This big win for Gov. Romney makes it all but certain that he will emerge as the nominee of the Republican Party,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of the gay conservative group GOProud.

“Gov. Romney’s win tonight is particularly pivotal given the size of the state and the importance Florida will have in electing the next president,” he said. “Gov. Romney’s message of economic hope and renewal has clearly resonated with the voters of Florida.

“The truth that neither Barack Obama nor his friends in the liberal media want to discuss is that most Americans, gay or straight, are no better off than they were in 2008 and that is a product of Obama’s failed big government policies,” said LaSalvia, who personally endorsed Romney earlier this month.

Cooper said Log Cabin has a longstanding rule of not endorsing presidential candidates until the time of the Republican National Convention. He said on Tuesday night that the timing of the club’s endorsement vote is strictly “administrative” in nature and has no bearing on the group’s views of Romney.

During the Log Cabin caucus in Miami on Jan. 28, which followed a national Log Cabin board meeting, Cooper and officials with Log Cabin chapters in Florida said the group’s members clearly were leaning toward backing Romney.

Hastings Wyman, editor of Southern Political Report, a newsletter specializing in reporting on politics in the South, characterized as “remarkable” Romney’s dramatic rise in popularity in Florida. He noted that Romney had been trailing Gingrich in the Sunshine State by double digits in the days following Gingrich’s win in the South Carolina primary.

“I think the biggest single factor was money,” said Wyman, in referring to Romney’s lopsided lead over Gingrich and the other three GOP contenders in money raised for his campaign.

Newt Gingrich has vowed to fight on after losing big to Mitt Romney in Florida’s primary this week. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

He said Romney’s large campaign war chest enabled him to purchase a barrage of negative TV ads that clearly hurt Gingrich. Gingrich’s campaign fired back with negative ads attacking Romney, prompting some state Republican leaders to express concern that the negative campaigns waged by both Romney and Gingrich could hurt them in their race against Obama should either of them win the nomination.

“I also think Romney did much better in the last two debates in Florida,” Wyman said. “Gingrich just didn’t look as strong. The performance and appearance in the debates by Romney was much better.”

Wyman, who is gay, said it’s hard to predict how Romney will deal with gay issues if he’s elected president.

“I think he would be perfectly comfortable in supporting civil rights for gays,” he said. “But I don’t’ think he would do anything to hurt him politically. I think he would be somewhat better than the others, but he’s not going to do anything to upset his base.”

In his election night statement, Cooper of Log Cabin Republicans cautioned Romney and the other GOP presidential candidates that adopting a “big tent” policy inclusive of gays would be the best tactic for the Republican presidential nominee to defeat Obama in November.

“Our local chapter leaders report that, like Florida voters overall, Log Cabin members in the Sunshine State were drawn to Romney’s business sense and clear plan to return America to prosperity through a strong private sector,” Cooper said.

“Still, there remain serious reservations about recent statements by Romney to so-called ‘pro-family’ groups,” Cooper said. “The real question now is whether Romney can win a majority of Americans, including younger voters, independents and disaffected Democrats,” he said. “Log Cabin Republicans are looking for a candidate who can rebuild the big tent, unite our party and claim a mandate to restore liberty and fiscal responsibility to the United States. Whether that candidate is Romney remains to be seen.”

Jerame Davis, executive director of National Stonewall Democrats, an LGBT group that is backing Obama, said Romney’s win in the Florida primary was due to his ability to “outspend and throw more mud than all of his opponents combined.”

He called Romney “a very unpopular frontrunner” whose support is not as strong as the “not-Romney” wing of the Republican Party.

Although the conservative GOProud and more moderate Log Cabin leaders often disagree over how the LGBT community should interact with the Republican Party, the two groups appeared to be in agreement this week over how to secure LGBT votes for Romney if he wins the nomination for president.

Both LaSalvia and Log Cabin members in Florida said they would stress that LGBT people, like all other voters, care about issues beyond gay rights. While Romney may not be as supportive or outspoken on LGBT issues as Obama, they said they will stress that Romney’s economic policies would help gays where it counts the most, “in their wallets and pocketbooks,” as Log Cabin’s Tampa chapter president Jim Pease said.

“So why do I think gays will do well under Romney?” asked gay Republican activist Jim Driscoll, a former Bush administration appointee to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. “Romney’s opposition to discrimination against gays in jobs, etc., is genuine. He is not uncomfortable with gay people.”

Gay Democrats argue that unlike Obama, Romney hasn’t taken a position on whether he would support and sign the Employment Non-Discrimination, or ENDA, which would ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Attempts by the Blade this week to reach a Romney campaign spokesperson to determine Romney’s position on ENDA and other pending LGBT-related bills in Congress were unsuccessful.

LaSalvia notes that Obama has said he doesn’t support same-sex marriage. Gay Democrats respond by saying Obama has supported virtually all other items on the LGBT rights agenda, including repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in states that have legalized them.

In what will likely emerge as the gay Republicans’ key talking point in the fall general election, LaSalvia said gays are not “one-issue” voters.

“Something I say a lot, is especially true when contrasting Obama’s policies with any of the Republican candidates, is that I believe that free market solutions benefit all Americans, but especially gay Americans,” he said.

“Whether it’s Social Security reform that includes private inheritable accounts, free market health care reform that would allow same-sex partners to go on the open market and purchase family plans, or tax reform to make the tax code simpler and fairer, Romney and the other Republican candidates are offering solutions to problems facing all of us that are far better for our country than Obama’s failed policies,” LaSalvia said.

Davis from National Stonewall Democrats said most LGBT voters will dismiss such arguments as “ridiculous.” He said NSD and the Democratic Party has and will continue to show that Obama comes out far ahead on LGBT and non-LGBT issues.

Davis said both Log Cabin and GOProud were downplaying what he called Romney’s most anti-gay stand – his agreement to sign a pledge issued by the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage to support a U.S. constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

“It’s the height of hypocrisy” that gay Republicans would attempt to excuse Romney’s support for the NOM pledge, Davis said.

“They should be ashamed for excusing any of these GOP swindlers for pandering to these regressive demagogues who seek to not only take away our rights, but persecute us back into the closet,” he said.

A random, unscientific sample of interviews with 14 gay men at Fort Lauderdale’s gay beach on Tuesday appeared to confirm the longstanding leanings of that city’s LGBT community. All 14 said they strongly support the re-election of Barack Obama and would be unlikely to vote for any Republican.

“As a gay man, I won’t vote for any Republican, said Al Adamczyk, a longtime Fort Lauderdale resident. I’m gay and I’m proud of it. Gay Republicans are idiots.”

Daniel Jeffers, a gay Air Force veteran who just moved to Fort Lauderdale with his partner, Jerry Finster, said the two believe Obama has been good on both gay and non-gay issues and would never consider voting for a Republican candidate for president.

“Some gays want him to do more,” said Finster of Obama. “He is doing everything possible. I think independents will vote for him. The Republicans are a joke. Out of a scale of five stars, I have six stars for Obama.”


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  1. George Olds

    February 1, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Those Log Closet Republicans are such effing hypocrites.

    Romney was one of the Republican presidential candidates that signed a pledge promising to oppose same-sex marriage. He is NOT in favor of eq

  2. George Olds

    February 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    uality before the law.

    Auntie Thomasinas, the lot of them.

  3. blue-heron

    February 2, 2012 at 9:53 am

    “cautioned him against engaging in ‘anti-gay pandering or divisive social politics.'” ??? You gotta be kiddin me!?!

    Surely these Con-Martyrs know Romney signed the pledge to Ammend the US Constitution against SS Marrige? Do they think for one split second that the GOP is going to allow him to flip on this if elected? I think Not!

  4. Sami

    February 17, 2012 at 10:09 am

    “Herpa derp sure every single GOP candidate thinks we’re scum and have pledged to repeal our rights, but Obama doesn’t support marriage a derpa herp!”

    These self-loathing traitors always leave out how the entire reason Obama wimps out and refuses to take a position on marriage is because their bigoted party would attack him for it relentlessly, like when he tried to appoint a gay man in the education department and the GOP and their propoganda arm at FOX News were smearing him as a goddamn pedophile.

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N.C. lieutenant governor compares gays to cow feces, maggots

“If homosexuality is of God, what purpose does it serve? What does it make? What does it create? It creates nothing,” Robinson said



North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson (Blade file photo)

WINSTON-SALEM – Speaking to parishioners at the Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem last Sunday, November 14, North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson attacked the LGBTQ+ community in remarks caught on the church’s livestreaming video on YouTube.

Robinson said in his sermon that he questioned the “purpose” of being gay; said heterosexual couples are “superior” to gay couples; and that he didn’t want to explain to his grandchildren why two men are kissing if they see that on television the Charlotte Observer reported.

The state’s Republican Lt. Governor then went on to compare being gay to “what the cows leave behind” as well as maggots and flies, who he said all serve a purpose in God’s creation. “If homosexuality is of God, what purpose does it serve? What does it make? What does it create? It creates nothing,” Robinson said.

Democratic lawmakers expressed their outrage on Twitter:

According to the Observer, “The video was distributed Friday by a pastor at St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church in Raleigh, the day before the Transgender Day of Remembrance. A protest rally was held Friday in front of Robinson’s office, but organizers also read the names of transgender people who have been killed.

This man’s theology and religious practices are not only flawed and a perversion of the Christian tenets; he places countless people at risk of violent attacks and even murder every time he opens his mouth,” said Vance Haywood, senior pastor at St. John’s, in a statement.

Robinson is expected to run for the governor’s chair in 2024. In another video of the sermon captured the Lt. Governor ranting in transphobic terms his opinion of the Trans community:

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (Twitter Video)

Video of remarks made by North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson courtesy of the Charlotte Observer.

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LGBTQ elder care facilities open nationwide, but discrimination persists

Advocates say seniors face challenges despite groundbreaking advances



The Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing facility opened this week in Los Angeles. (Blade file photo)

Marsha Wetzel, an out lesbian, shared her life with her partner of 30 years, Judith Kahn, at the couple’s home in Illinois until Kahn died in 2013 of colon cancer.

As is the case with some same-sex couples who never married, Kahn’s family took legal possession of the couple’s home several years later, forcing Wetzel, who suffered from severe arthritis, to move into the Glen St. Andrew Living Community, a retirement and assisted living facility in Niles, Ill.

According to a lawsuit filed on her behalf in 2016 by the LGBTQ litigation group Lambda Legal, when word got out that Wetzel was a lesbian after she disclosed her sexual orientation to a fellow resident, she was called homophobic slurs, spat on, and assaulted on several occasions by other residents of the facility. The lawsuit, which later resulted in a court ruling in Wetzel’s favor, charged that officials at the Glen St. Andrew facility illegally failed to take action to prevent Wetzel from being subjected to abuse and threats by fellow residents and retaliated against her when she complained.

Lambda Legal announced one year ago, on Nov. 20, 2020, that Wetzel passed away at the age of 73 of natural causes after a landmark 2018 appeals court ruling in her favor affirmed that residential facilities such as the one in which she lived are legally responsible for the safety of tenant residents.

“Marsha spent the rest of her days in a senior living community where she was out and affirmed,” said Lambda Legal attorney Karen Loewy, who represented Wetzel in the lawsuit.

Advocates for LGBTQ seniors were hopeful that the 2018 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruling in the Wetzel case would speed up the gradual but steady advances in the rights of LGBTQ elders in long-term care facilities and in society in general.

A short time later, the New York City-based national LGBTQ elder advocacy group SAGE expanded its programs providing cultural competency training for the nation’s long-term care residential facilities. And in some cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, LGBTQ specific retirement and long-term care facilities began to open to provide LGBTQ elders with a wide range of “wrap around” services in addition to a safe place to live.

But LGBTQ elder advocates were taken aback in October of this year when news surfaced that transgender U.S. Army veteran Lisa Oakley, 68, was denied placement in more than two-dozen long-term care facilities in Colorado in 2020 and earlier this year.

“When they found out I was transgender, a lot of the facilities didn’t want me,” Oakley told USA Today. “A lot of transgender people, I’m sure, face the same thing,” she said. “We’re humans, just like everybody else.” 

Oakley told other media outlets her ordeal in trying to gain admission to a residential care facility began in October 2020, when she became unable to care for herself due to complications from diabetes. Her first choice was a facility in her hometown in rural Craig, Colo., where she had lived for the previous 25 years. She believes that facility turned her down because of her gender identity.

A social worker who assisted in Oakley’s applications for long-term care facilities said the facility in Craig said Oakley would have to be placed in a private room, which was at the time unavailable, “because she still has her ‘boy parts’ and cannot be placed with a woman” in a shared room. 

Many other Colorado facilities to which Oakley applied for admission, according to social worker Cori Martin-Crawford, cited the COVID pandemic as the reason for not accepting new residents. But as COVID related restrictions began to subside, other facilities continued to deny Oakley admission.

With Martin-Crawford’s help, Oakley finally found a facility that is LGBTQ supportive in Grand Junction, Colo., which is nearly three hours away from her hometown of Craig, where she had hoped to remain.

LGBTQ activists expressed concern that the discrimination that Oakley faced took place in the state of Colorado, which has a state law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Experts familiar with long-term care facilities for older adults have said many private elder care facilities can get around state LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws by claiming other reasons for turning down an LGBTQ person.

Michael Adams, the CEO of SAGE, told the Blade that the wide range of programs and initiatives put in place by SAGE and other groups advocating for LGBTQ elders in recent years have resulted in significant changes in support of LGBTQ seniors.

“It is the case now that in almost all states there are one or more elder care facilities that have been trained through our SAGECare program,” Adams said. “But it’s nowhere near what it needs to be,” he said. “It needs to be that there are welcoming elder care facilities in every single community in this country” for LGBTQ elders.

Adams was referring to the SAGE program started recently called SAGECare that arranges for employees and other officials at elder care facilities throughout the country to receive LGBTQ competency training. The facilities that participate in the program are designated “SAGECare credentialed,” and are included in SAGE database lists available to LGBTQ elders looking for a safe facility in which to reside.

SAGE spokesperson Christina Da Costa provided the Blade with data showing there have been 136,975 professionals trained at a total of 617 SAGECare credentialed organizations nationwide. Out of 617 organizations, 172 are residential communities. Also, out of the total of 617 are 167 Area Agencies on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, Senior Centers, and senior Ombudsman offices.

Da Costa said 278 of the credentialed entities that have received the SAGECare training throughout the country are “other aging focused nonprofit and for-profit businesses.”

According to SAGE, there are 12 SAGECare credentialed elder care facilities or service providers operating in the D.C. metropolitan area, with two located in D.C. One of the D.C. facilities is Ingleside at Rock Creek, located in Northwest D.C., which is a residential facility. The other is Options for Senior America, a company that provides in-home care services for seniors, including seniors living in D.C.

A SAGE list of the D.C.-area SAGECare credentialed facilities shows that three are in Rockville, Md.; two are in Gaithersburg, Md.; and one each are in Bethesda, Md.; Arlington, Va.; and Alexandria, Va. The list shows that one of them that provides services to elders in the D.C. area is based in North Carolina.

SAGE has a separate list of the 15 elder care residential facilities in the U.S. created specifically to serve LGBTQ residents. 

None are in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia. However, SAGE says it has been working in cooperation with Mary’s House for Older Adults, a D.C.-based LGBTQ organization that advocates for LGBTQ seniors and is in the process of opening LGBTQ elder residential facilities in D.C. and others in the surrounding suburbs.

Mary’s House founder and CEO Dr. Imani Woody couldn’t immediately be reached to determine when the organization expects to open its first residential facility. 

While a residential LGBTQ elder facility has yet to open in the D.C. area, activists note that in addition to Mary’s House, services and amenities for LGBTQ elders in the area are currently being provided by the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community and Whitman-Walker Health, the LGBTQ supportive health center, which also has a legal services branch.

Adams of SAGE said the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center opened the nation’s first LGBTQ elder residential facility over eight years ago called Triangle Square. He said the L.A. Center opened a second LGBTQ elder residential facility a short time later. And this week, the L.A. Center announced it has opened a third LGBTQ elder residential facility in Hollywood that is part of a larger “intergenerational campus” that will bring together LGBTQ seniors and LGBTQ youth. 

SAGE, meanwhile, operates two LGBTQ elder long-term care residential facilities in New York City, one in Brooklyn called the Stonewall House and one in the Bronx called Pride House. 

The other U.S. cities with LGBTQ elder residential facilities include: Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco (which has two such facilities), San Diego, Houston, Fort Lauderdale, and Islip, N.Y.

Adams said the LGBTQ elder residential facilities range in size, with the largest – New York’s Stonewall House – having 143 apartments that can accommodate 200 residents. He said others vary from 40 or 50 residential units to 120.

Advocates for LGBTQ elders point to what they consider another important breakthrough for LGBTQ elders this year in the release of a joint SAGE-Human Rights Campaign Long-Term Care Equality Index report for 2021. Adams said the report is the first of what could become an annual report and rating and scorecard for long-term care elder residential facilities and other elder facilities. 

The 2021 report includes a self-reporting assessment of elder care facilities that the facilities themselves completed through a questionnaire in which many disclosed they have LGBTQ nondiscrimination policies for elders around admission to the facility and for practices by staff for those residing in their facilities.

The report includes a chart showing that 158 elder care facilities in 31 states responded positively to the outreach to them by organizers of the Long-Term Care Equality Index.

“We are thrilled to be working with SAGE and to be working with the Human Rights Campaign who are developing the Long-Term Care Equality Index,” said Nii-Quartelai Quartey, who serves as senior adviser and LGBTQ liaison for the American Association of Retired Persons or AARP.

“There is a great deal of work that we’re doing in the area of LGBTQ older adults nationwide,” Quartey told the Blade. “And AARP has been engaged with the LGBTQ community nationwide for many years now,” he said.

“In recent years, we’ve turned up the volume in working more closely with organizations like SAGE and Lambda Legal and the Victory Fund Institute, the Center for Black Equity, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, and the Hispanic Federation.”

According to Quartey, a recent AARP study of LGBTQ elders called Maintaining Dignity shows that longstanding concerns of discrimination remain despite the many advances in support for LGBTQ seniors in recent years.

He said a survey that was part of the study found that 67 percent of the LGBTQ elders who responded, “were concerned about neglect in a long-term care setting.” Over 60 percent feared verbal or physical harassment in a long-term care setting and over half “felt forced to hide or deny their identity” as an LGBTQ person, Quartey said.

Another recent survey of LGBTQ elders conducted by SAGE asking them how they feel about the use of the word “queer” in descriptions of LGBTQ people yielded findings that came as a surprise to some, according to Adams. A large majority of those surveyed from across the country said they are “comfortable at this point using that word and reclaiming that word, which is different from what we had heard historically,” Adams said.

He said in response to those findings SAGE will now as an organization gradually shift to using the term LGBTQ instead of its past practice of using LGBT.

Although Congress has yet to pass the Equality Act, last year under the Trump Administration, Congress acted in a rare bipartisan way to approve the required five-year reauthorization of the U.S. Older Americans Act with new language supportive of LGBTQ older adults. President Trump signed the legislation.

The language includes a mandate for outreach to and reporting about services provided to LGBTQ older adults in federally funded programs. It also opens the way for LGBTQ older adults to be designated in a category of “greatest social need.” Under that category, older adults receive a higher priority in the allocation of resources by the federal government.

“We’ve come a long way, but we still have a way to go to get over the finish line,” said the AARP’s Quartey. “And aside from passing legislation federally and on the state and local level, we absolutely need to continue the hard work of changing hearts and minds,” he said.

Longtime gay activist and writer Brian McNaught, whose latest book, “On Being Gay and Gray – Our Stories, Gifts, and the Meaning of Our Lives,” was just released, says his own very informal survey of LGBTQ elders found there is a need for intimacy that may be too controversial for the establishment LGBTQ elder groups.

“I’m a SAGE volunteer and the 81-year-old man with whom I was working after his husband of 47 years died, said after his grieving process, ‘I want to be hugged and kissed. Does that make me a bad person?’”

McNaught told the Blade he assured the man those feelings do not make him a bad person. McNaught said the man’s comment prompted him to conduct further research, in which he found that some gay male elders in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area who often need assisted living support would like to patronize gay bathhouses or seek the services of an escort agency. He said he determined that any LGBTQ elder group providing such services would trigger “a huge uproar of protests” and most likely a loss of funding.

“We don’t want to talk about sexuality and aging,” McNaught said.

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Former VOA director nominated to head U.S. Agency for Global Media

Previous CEO’s actions threatened LGBTQ internet freedom



(Public domain photo)

President Biden on Monday nominated Amanda Bennett, the former head of Voice of America and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, investigative journalist and editor, to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

“I am honored by this nomination,” Bennett told Voice of America. “If confirmed, I will be so proud to work with all the dedicated journalists at USAGM who are doing the critical and difficult work around the world of upholding and demonstrating the value of a free press.”

The agency operates independently from the U.S. government and oversees five different entities that include Voice of America, broadcasting platforms and the Open Technology Fund. The fund is an independent non-profit organization that focuses on advancing global internet freedom by providing internet access, digital privacy tutorials, privacy enhancement and security tools like encryption.

These tools have been integral in preserving internet freedom for LGBTQ people abroad, especially in places where it’s unsafe or illegal to be LGBTQ.

Bennett, 69, was named VOA director in 2016 and resigned from her post in June 2020 after conservative documentary filmmaker Michael Pack was confirmed as the agency’s CEO during the Trump administration.

Under Pack’s tenure, several technology freedom experts said the former CEO thwarted the Open Technology Fund’s efforts abroad by freezing funds. Pack also ignored a House subpoena for an oversight hearing that was meant for him to address mass firings, withholding congressionally approved funds and other questionable activities.

Pack stepped down at Biden’s request in January, and the president named Kelu Chao, a VOA veteran journalist, as Pack’s replacement and interim CEO.

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