Report Tries to Clear Obama Admin on Promoting Pro-Abortion Kenya Constitution

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 4, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Report Tries to Clear Obama Admin on Promoting Pro-Abortion Kenya Constitution

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 4
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — A new report issued by the inspector general for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) claims the Obama administration did not improperly use taxpayer funds to promote the new constitution in Kenya, which contains provisions essentially legalizing virtually all abortions.

The Obama administration spent tens of millions financing groups participating in the Yes campaign supporting the draft constitution Kenyans approved in August. Some of the groups have long advocated legalized abortion in Kenya.

Both the administration and United States Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger were accused of endorsing the pro-abortion constitution in violation of the Siljander amendment, a law making it so the United States is not allowed to lobby for or against abortion in other nations.

The report indicates the Obama administration spent $61.2 million with $12.6 million going directly to efforts to promote the pro-abortion constitution — though Obama officials contend the money went to voter education efforts on the process itself and not promoting a Yes vote — and the rest of the funding went to eight prime recipients and 86 sub-recipients.

Congressman Chris Smith, a pro-life New Jersey Republican who has taken the lead in monitoring the Obama administration vis-a-vis the Kenya constitution efforts, said the report was "poorly researched, superficial, incomplete and a whitewash."

“This was not a well-researched investigation. We had expected the truth and nothing else. We had hoped the IG would dig deep for the facts," he told late Friday. "This is the most superficial report I’ve seen in my 30 years in Congress.”

While the IG “did find evidence that USAID” had spent taxpayers funds to “achieve a yes vote”—which in and of itself, according to Smith, was illegal because the Kenyan constitution alters abortion policy—the IG says he did not find any evidence of “direct lobbying.”

“With this poorly researched, incomplete audit, we still don’t know [whether the Obama administration violated the law]," he said. “Again with this incomplete audit, we just don’t know."

Smith pointed out the “superficiality of the audit is easily understood” by the IG’s answer to the question of whether any nongovernmental organization (NGO) receiving U.S. funding even had a public position with respect to abortion.

“Incredibly the IG said they conducted interviews and Internet searches with several of the grantees and concluded that ‘the organizations listed above indicated that they do not have a position with respect to abortion.’ What a credibility-buster that is,” Smith said. “There is no doubt U.S. funds flowed to highly visible pro-abortion groups. Who is the IG kidding?”

Smith told on recipient of taxpayer funds, the Federation of Woman Lawyers Kenya (FIDA-Kenya), is among the most active pro-abortion organizations in the country. According to numerous press accounts FIDA-Kenya helped draft and lobby for the Reproductive Health and Rights Bill of 2008 in the Kenyan Parliament which sought to legalize abortion. That legislation failed.

FIDA-Kenya got over $85,000 from the U.S. government to engage in the constitution rewrite.

In addition to getting it “absolutely wrong” on FIDA-Kenya, the IG misrepresented the pro-abortion positions of several other NGOs including the African Woman and Child Feature Service and the Women in Law and Development in Africa, Smith said.

The website of the group, a media non-governmental organization, shows that it seeks to increase media coverage about abortion and “comprehensive reproductive health rights” in Kenya.

Women in Law and Development in Africa, FIDA-Kenya, and the African Woman and Child Features Service all signed onto a petition to members of the Kenyan Parliament advocating for changes to the abortion-related provisions in the draft constitution that would liberalize Kenya’s abortion laws.

Moreover, Smith said that after he had received a copy of a preliminary audit — which he said was also egregiously flawed — the congressman met with USAID IG Donald Gambatesa in Smith’s Washington office on June 30, 2010.

“The IG said his investigator did a ‘Google search’ to determine whether U.S.-funded NGOs had any position on abortion,” Smith said. “A Google search? I was shocked. That’s it?

Smith said he then handed the IG evidence from major news outlets that clearly showed that NGO’s, including FIDA-Kenya, had strong, very public, pro-abortion positions. In response the IG told Smith the work of his investigator was “embarrassing.”

“This final audit is a major embarrassment as well,” Smith said.

Local media in Kenya reported Ranneberger announced "his support for the proposed new constitution saying the document caters the needs of all Kenyans."

Before the vote, the media outlet said he is now "under heavy criticism from the ‘No’ camp for his open support for the proposed law."

The envoy said, "We have made it clear that a new constitution is absolutely essential for the future, security and prosperity of this great nation."

"As our Vice President said during his recent visit, the country will only attract foreign investments unless the country deals with issues of corruption. This will only come about with a new constitution in place," Ranneberger added, applying economic pressure to Kenyans to approve the document. "I therefore urge all Kenyans to take advantage of this opportunity. Kenya is poised at the most important moment of change since independence."


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