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On Tuesday, U.S. Congressman Tim Burchett (TN-02) introduced legislation to reduce the salary of Setareh Sieg, Special Assistant to the Director of Programming at Voice of America, to $1. Rep. Burchett submitted this amendment due to her misuse of funds and the fact she lied on her resume. This legislation was introduced as an amendment to the FY 2025 State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) appropriations bill. Rep. Burchett previously introduced this amendment to the FY 2024 SFOPS appropriations bill, but it failed on September 28, 2023.

“I learned about Ms. Seig’s actions a year ago, and I tried to cut her salary in last year’s appropriations bill. She was fired by the Trump administration, then the Biden administration hired her back despite multiple reports of misconduct. This is not the transparency Americans deserve from our government, she doesn’t deserve a salary, and she should be removed from her position immediately.” Said Rep.Burchett.

On June 12, 2024, the House Foreign Affairs Committee released a report on vetting failures at the U.S. Global Agency for Global Media (USAGM), specifically regarding Seig’s workplace misconduct and falsified information.

According to the report, Seig was fired under the Trump administration then rehired under the Biden administration under suspicious circumstances. Whistleblowers contacted the Committee requesting an investigation into Seig, which the Committee launched in 2021. Some highlights from the report include:

  • Seig claimed on her application for the VOA Director position that she had the French equivalent of a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Sorbonne, which turned out to be false.
  • Seig told the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security she earned a “Ph.D. Political Science Comparative” from the University of Paris in 1993, which turned out to be false.
  • USAGM refused to contact the French Embassy for two years, despite being urged by the Committee to ask about Seig’s degree. After USAGM finally reached out, the Embassy confirmed Seig does not have a French doctorate.
  • On January 5, 2021, VOA Deputy Director Elizabeth Robbins suspended Seig and proposed she be removed from VOA. Then on January 21, 2021, one day after President Biden was sworn in, Acting VOA Director Yolanda Lopez took Seig off suspension with no loss of pay or seniority.
  • A senior VOA official told the Human Resources office Seig played favorites with overtime and hired a senior official based on favoritism.
  • USAGM tried to contact Committee Chairman McCaul privately to request he shut down its investigation in 2023.
  • On March 25, 2024, USAGM told the Committee no disciplinary action was planned for Seig. Then on March 31, 2024, USAGM told the Committee that after a review of “updated information,” it would issue a letter of reprimand to Seig. However, USAGM has not allowed the Committee to see what is in the letter.

The text of Burchett’s proposed amendment for FY 2024 can be found here. The text of this year’s amendment has not been published yet, but text is identical.

The text of the House Foreign Affairs Committee report can be found here.

Author: Press Release


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