Congressman continues to probe USAID political spending on Kenyan referendum

A pro-life news service has comments from Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) indicating that he remains dissatisfied after the Inspector General’s review of spending by USAID on the Kenyan referendum.Apparently USAID did not include on a timely basis the contract clause barring use of US Government funds for lobbying or advocacy of abortion in its contracts with democracy support NGOs and others working in relation to the Referendum.

The Obama administration has repeatedly come under fire from pro-life Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who leads the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

Smith has been concerned about a USAID report indicating the Obama administration spent $61.2 million related to the vote on the August vote on the new Kenya constitution. The report shows 12.6 million going to efforts to directly promote the pro-abortion constitution.

The constitution Kenyans adopted contained a clause making it so abortions would be legalized in any case in which medical professionals say it is somehow necessary for women.

As a result, the funding of groups promoting it appears to violate the Siljander Amendment — a federal law Congress approved decades ago that prevents the federal government from spending taxpayer funds promoting abortions in other nations.

Before the mid-term elections, Congressman Smith told LifeNews.com one of the consequences of Republicans taking over the House is the ability of pro-life advocates leading committees and subcommittees to the their powers to hold the Obama administration accountable on subject like this. He said the “investigatory and subpoena powers” the committees have would be useful in following up on the question of whether the Obama administration broke the law in funding the pro-constitution and pro-abortion groups.

Last week, he said the elections resulted in the victory of many new pro-life lawmakers who can support a potential investigation.

I have written previously that it is hard for me to see illegal lobbying for abortion in supporting the Kenyan constitution, but I have also noted that the Inspector General’s report indicates non-neutral spending to advocate for a “Yes” vote on the referendum. Aside from the disputed abortion language, this means that we did arguably interfere in the campaign and that we were, at best, less than straightforward about it. Congress should exercise its oversight authority to make sure that the American people do know what our government did in both the referendum campaign and in the 2007 presidential campaign.

Transparency is much needed in Kenya, and we need to teach by example rather than contradicting ourselves through our own practices.

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