Growing evidence of U.S. taxpayer money spent on the controversial proposed Kenyan constitution vote set for Aug. 4 drew sharp criticism from four Members of the House of Representatives this afternoon.
U.S. Reps. Trent Franks (AZ-02), Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01), Joseph Pitts (PA-16) and Chris Smith (NJ-04) criticized the Obama Administration's spending to influence the vote on the referendum through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID has reported spending at least $23 million to promote the proposed constitution, far above earlier estimates of $2 million. The lawmakers questioned the legality of the spending, since current U.S. law bars funding to either advocate either for or against abortion, and the proposed document dramatically changes existing Kenyan abortion laws.
"In the run up to the August 4 referendum on the constitution--just like any other election-- the United States and other interested parties have a profoundly important, but narrow role to play," Smith said. "And that is to ensure to the greatest extent possible that the referendum is free, fair and peaceful. Under no circumstances should the U.S. government take sides by supporting, facilitating and funding projects designed to identify and motivate votes for either side. Yet that is precisely what the Obama Administration has done. And because the proposed constitution significantly alters existing abortion law in Kenya, expending U.S. taxpayer funds used in support of the "Yes" campaign is also illegal." (click here to read Congressman Smith's remarks)
Fortenberry, who like Smith is a member of the House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, noted that the U.S. should support Kenya's efforts to secure democracy and a strong constitution, but U.S. aid must be legal.
"There isn't a member of this body who doesn't support strengthening Kenya's governing capacity," Fortenberry said. "As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, I strongly support Kenya's desire to build effective democratic institutions that promote the rule of law and human rights protections to safeguard against further violent incursions. Any support from the United States government needs to be unrelated to partisan provocation, and given within the boundaries of the law. Aspects of the United States' advocacy involvement in the referendum seem peculiar."
Pitts added that U.S. law very clearly prohibits the U.S. Government from using federal funds to lobby for or against abortion.
"This Administration appears to have disregarded current law and is instead advocating for the ratification of a proposed constitution in Kenya that will expand access to abortion," Pitts said. "The Inspector General for USAID has provided information showing that the U.S. Government is spending over $23 million for activities in Kenya that are intended to influence voters to pass the proposed constitution. The IG's report explicitly shows that organizations have been receiving federal grants for the purpose of registering "yes" votes for the referendum."
Franks focused on President Obama's strong advocacy of abortion around the world.
"4,000 unborn children are now killed by abortion every day in America. That's 50 million since Roe v. Wade," said Franks. "Yet the Obama administration seems to find that number insufficient. One of President Obama's very first official significant acts was to send American taxpayers' money overseas to pay for the killing of unborn children in other countries. And now the administration is illegally spending millions of dollars of taxpayers' money overseas to change the pro-life constitution of Kenya to one that will facilitate the killing of still more unborn children. Mr. Obama has become the abortion President, and his administration has now become the most dangerous enemy unborn humanity faces in the world today. It is a disgrace that beggars description."