BBG member Victor AsheIndependent BBG Watch website reported that Ambassador Victor Ashe, a Republican member of the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), has called for the U.S. international broadcasting agency to disengage from the 50 million dollar audience research contract with The Gallup Organization.

Ashe made the statement in response to the Justice Department’s decision to join a lawsuit against The Gallup Organization which accuses the polling company of filing false claims on contracts with the U.S. Mint, the State Department and other government agencies.Gallup denies the charges in the lawsuit which was joined by the Department of Justice. The lawsuit was originally filed by a former Gallup employee, a whistleblower who had been fired when he confronted the management with accusations of overbilling government agencies and demanded that Gallup end these practices.

Ashe is one of the current seven members of the bipartisan BBG Board and has been a consistent critic of the BBG’s audience research contract with Gallup. He has been calling also for greater transparency in how the BBG manages U.S. international broadcasting operations, which include the Voice of America (VOA), the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN).

“In light of the Department of Justice joining the lawsuit against Gallup, I think prudence suggests BBG disengage from our current up to $50 million contract for polling. I have always had misgivings about this huge contract. And have urged its reduction. Now it is time to call it off and look elsewhere for our research,” Victor Ashe said.

“Some are claiming Gallup is innocent until proven guilty.  But the issue is now out in the open. We could get badly burned if not royally embarrassed over this. DOJ actions provide ample reason to re-assess,” Ashe added.

Victor Ashe made his comments as one of the members of the BBG Board. The Broadcasting Board of Governors has not officially commented on the Gallup lawsuit. The issue is likely to be discussed by Board members next Tuesday at the BBG Strategy and Budget Committee meeting.

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