As unrest with blank-check U.S. support for the war in Ukraine grows on the right, Florida Republican Rep. Byron Donalds is helping lead an effort to force the Biden administration to be more transparent about how taxpayer-funded aid is being spent.
The Naples Republican and 22 other GOP lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken wanting to know what specifically has happened to the $113 billion the U.S. has sent to one of the world’s most corrupt nations in its bid to repel Russian invaders.
The Biden administration has reportedly supplied “security, humanitarian, economic, and governance assistance,” the letter says.
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“It is critical that government agencies administering these funds ensure they are used for their intended purposes to prevent and reduce the risk of waste, fraud, and abuse,” the lawmakers wrote in demanding to see the receipts.
The lawmakers noted that last month National Security Council spokesman John Kirby claimed there were no signs “that our budgetary assistance has fallen prey to any kind of corruption in Ukraine.”
Yet just a day earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired “several” of his government’s top officials amid a corruption scandal.
Those Ukrainian officials allegedly engaged in bribery, used government vehicles for their personal use, and purchased food supplies for Ukrainian forces at inflated prices.
“Based on Mr. Kirby’s remarks, however, the U.S. National Security Council appears unaware of this corruption scandal, heightening concerns that U.S. agencies are not conducting oversight of taxpayer assistance to Ukraine,” the letter stated.
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“Providing security and humanitarian assistance for warfighting and reconstruction purposes comes with an inherent risk of fraud, waste, and abuse. The United States must identify these risks and develop oversight mechanisms to mitigate them.”
The Biden administration says U.S. funding flows through and is vetted by the World Bank.
“We learned from efforts in Afghanistan that the World Bank does not always have effective monitoring and accounting of funds, and often lacks transparency,” the lawmakers noted. “We also learned that unrealistic timelines and expectations that prioritize spending quickly lead to increased corruption and reduced effectiveness of programs.”
“As the United States continues to filter assistance through multilateral organizations with pressure to spend funds quickly, we must ensure proper protections are in place to prevent the misuse of funds.”
The Oversight Committee requested a bevy of documents, including those detailing how the administration plans to monitor the aid, its demands for conditions tying aid to anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine, and how it knows where the money goes.
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