President Bush said last week that, "Any
election [in Ukraine], if there is one, ought to be free from any foreign influence."
I agree with the president wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, it seems that several
U.S. government agencies saw things differently and sent U.S. taxpayer dollars
into Ukraine in attempt to influence the outcome.
We do not know exactly how many millions – or tens of millions – of dollars
the United States government spent on the presidential election in Ukraine.
We do know that much of that money was targeted to assist one particular candidate,
and that through a series of cut-out non-governmental organizations (NGOs) –
both American and Ukrainian – millions of dollars ended up in support of the
presidential candidate, Viktor Yushchenko.
Let me add that I do not think we should be supporting either of the candidates.
While I am certainly no supporter of Viktor Yushchenko, I am not a supporter
of his opponent, Viktor Yanukovich, either. Simply, it is none of our business
who the Ukrainian people select to be their president. And, if they feel the
vote was not fair, it is up to them to work it out.
How did this one-sided U.S. funding in Ukraine come about? While I am afraid
we may have seen only the tip of the iceberg, one part that we do know thus
far is that the U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID), granted millions of dollars to the Poland-America-Ukraine Cooperation
Initiative (PAUCI), which is administered by the U.S.-based Freedom House.
PAUCI then sent U.S. government funds to numerous Ukrainian non-governmental
organizations (NGOs). This would be bad enough and would in itself constitute
meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. But, what is worse is
that many of these grantee organizations in Ukraine are blatantly in favor of
presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko.
Consider the Ukrainian NGO International
Center for Policy Studies. It is an organization funded by the U.S. government
through PAUCI. On its Web site, we discover that this NGO
was founded by George Soros' Open Society Institute. And further on we can
see that Viktor
Yushchenko himself sits on the advisory board!
And this NGO is not the only one the U.S. government funds that is openly supportive
of Viktor Yushchenko. The Western Ukraine Regional Training Center, as another
example, features a prominent USAID logo on one side of its Web
site's front page and an orange ribbon of the candidate Yushchenko's party
and movement on the other. By their proximity, the message to Ukrainian readers
is clear: the U.S. government supports Yushchenko.
The Center for Political and Legal Reforms, another Ukrainian NGO funded by
the U.S. government, features a link at the top of its Web
site's front page to Viktor Yushchenko's personal Web site. Yushchenko's
picture is at the top of this U.S.-government-funded Web site.
This May, the Virginia-based private management consultancy Development Associates,
Inc., was awarded $100 million by the U.S. government "for strengthening
national legislatures and other deliberative bodies worldwide." According
to the organization's
Web site, several million dollars from this went to Ukraine in advance of
As I have said, this may only be the tip of the iceberg. There may be many
more such organizations involved in this twisted tale.
It is clear that a significant amount of U.S. taxpayer dollars went to support
one candidate in Ukraine. Recall how most of us felt when it became known that
government was trying to funnel campaign funding to a U.S. presidential campaign.
This foreign funding of American elections is rightly illegal. Yet, it appears
that that is exactly what we are doing abroad. What we do not know, however,
is just how much U.S. government money was spent to influence the outcome of
the Ukrainian election.
Dozens of organizations are granted funds under the PAUCI program alone, and
this is only one of many programs that funneled dollars into Ukraine. We do
not know how many millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars the National
Endowment for Democracy (NED) sent to Ukraine through NED's National
Democratic Institute and International Republican
Institute. Nor do we know how many other efforts, overt or covert, have
been made to support one candidate over the other in Ukraine.
That is what I find so disturbing: there are so many cut-out organizations
and sub-grantees that we have no idea how much U.S. government money was really
spent on Ukraine, and most importantly how it was spent. Perhaps the several
examples of blatant partisan support that we have been able to uncover are but
an anomaly. I believe Congress and the American taxpayers have a right to know.
I believe we urgently need an investigation by the Government Accounting Office
into how much U.S. government money was spent in Ukraine and exactly how it
was spent. I would hope very much for the support of Chairman Hyde, Chairman
Lugar, Deputy Assistant Secretary Tefft, and my colleagues on the House International
Relations Committee in this request.
President Bush is absolutely correct: elections in Ukraine should be free of
foreign influence. It is our job here and now to discover just how far we have
violated this very important principle, and to cease any funding of political
candidates or campaigns henceforth.