Free Press, Common Cause and the Center for Digital Democracy have petitioned the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to release any e-mails between former CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson or other CPB officials and the White House.
The e-mails were alluded to but not released in a CPB Inspector General's (IG) report that found Tomlinson had violated laws and policies by becoming involved in programming decision and using "political tests" for hiring executives. Tomlinson, who has since resigned, has disputed both charges.
CPB was created to oversee government funding--about $400 million a year--to PBS.
While CPB has said it is exempt from Freedom of Information Requests, the groups said Monday that the corporation is on the record saying it would voluntarily comply with such requests.
In addition to the e-mails, the groups seek minutes of closed CPB board meetings, and whatever evidence was uncovered and turned over to Congress in the IG investigation, which was requested by several legislators.
Republican Tomlinson created a political backlash after proclaiming that PBS needed to program more conservative shows to balance liberal ones like NOW with Bill Moyers. He was also criticized for the hiring of former Republican National Committee Chairman Patricia Harrison as CPB President.
Part of CPB's charter is to unsure that PBS programming is balanced on controversial issues, but it is not supposed to influence the content of individual shows. That prohibition is meant to insulate it from politics, something it has been far from insulated from in recent months.