by Steven Ertelt
July 14, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Despite denials by the office of Vice President Joe Biden and the U.S. embassy in Kenya, the leading pro-life congressman says the Obama administration is absolutely engaging in illegal funding of a campaign to get voters in Kenya to adopt a pro-abortion constitution.
As LifeNews.com reported on Monday, the United States embassy in Kenya issued a statement saying the administration of President Barack Obama is not spending taxpayer dollars funding a campaign to support a pro-abortion Constitution Kenya voters will consider at the polls next month.
But Rep. Chris Smith, one of three U.S. lawmakers who have requested an investigation into U.S. activities leading up to the referendum, tells LifeNews.com today he has evidence the Obama administration is funding the Yes campaign.
Smith says Obama is doing so by providing taxpayer dollars for the Yes campaign via organizations that are actively supporting it on the ground in Kenya.
“There is no doubt that the Obama Administration is funding the ‘yes’ campaign in Kenya,” he said. “By funding NGOs charged with obtaining ‘yes’ votes, the Administration has crossed the line.”
“Directly supporting efforts to register ‘yes’ voters and ‘get out the yes vote’ means the U.S. government is running a political campaign in Kenya. U.S. taxpayer funds should not be used to support one side or the other,” he added.
As part of ongoing discussions with the Office of the Inspector General of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Representatives Smith and Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and California Rep. Darrell Issa received a chart listing USAID funding recipients and a summary of their agreements.
Two organizations are receiving over $150,000 form the U.S. government to “contribute to an ‘overrepresentation’ of the Yes voters,” and five organizations have been charged with registering a total of 100,000 “for a Yes vote” at the referendum.
Other Kenyan groups are being given funding for similar Yes vote efforts, Smith said.
Specifically, the Provincial Peace Forum, Eastern Providence received $97,633.33 in taxpayer funds to “gain buy-in for the new proposed constitution by educating the professional elites in Isiolo South Constituency about its benefits and getting their commitment to use their influence to ensure people register and vote YES at the referendum.”
* The Central Organization of Trade Unions, Kenya (COTU) received $91,106.66 to “marshal a coalition of pro-Constitution individuals, institutions, and organizations to drum up political support for the Proposed Constitution by organizing a public rally at the historic Kamukunji Grounds, Nairobi.”
* The Provincial Commissioner North Eastern Province obtained $99,220 for “one of a series of activities that aim to contribute to an ‘overrepresentation’ of the YES voters at the next referendum. Specifically, OTI will provide support to the office of the Provincial Commissioner (PC) in the form of transportation and fuel.”
* The Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance (KMYA) got $56,953.33 from the Obama administration for “one of a series of activities that aim to contribute to an ‘overrepresentation’ of the YES voters at the next referendum. Specifically, OTI will provide support to Kenya Muslims Youth Alliance (KMYA) in the form of transportation and communications.”
* The Provincial Peace Forum, Rift Valley Province received $94,193.33 to “build on previous activities in the North Rift as an entry point for a YES campaign on the constitution. Specifically, this activity will serve to gain buy-in for the new proposed constitution by getting the professional elites’ commitment.”
* The Inter community Peace Choir Organization obtained $38,600 for “one of a series of activities aimed at facilitating registration of approximately 20,000 in cosmopolitan areas occupied by IDPs for a YES vote at the next referendum.”
* The North Rift Theatre Ambassadors got $37,773.33 from Obama for “one of a series of activities aimed at facilitating registration of approximately 20,000 in cosmopolitan areas of Uasin Gishu, namely Turbo, Maili Nne-Chepkanaga, and Huruma divisions for a YES vote at the next referendum.”
* The Amani Peoples Theatre received $41,400 for “one of a series of activities aimed at facilitating registration of approximately 20,000 in Kachiliba and Psigor Constituencies-North Pokot for a YES vote at the next referendum.”
* The Christian Community Services obtained $37,466.67 for “one of a series of activities aimed at facilitating registration of approximately 20,000 in the three Constituencies of Turkana South, Central, and North for a YES vote at the next referendum.”
* And the Pokot Outreach Ministries received $38,133.34 for “one of a series of activities aimed at facilitating registration of approximately 20,000 additional voters in the entire Constituency of Kapenguria for a YES vote at the next referendum.”
Smith said these Obama administration-funded grants for organizations actively involved in persuading Kenyan voters to adopt a constitution that will legalize abortions is inappropriate.
“The draft constitution, with its controversial provisions expanding access to abortion, is a matter for the Kenyan people to consider and decide,” Smith said. “The Obama Administration should immediately withdraw all U.S. taxpayer funding used to buy votes and influence the outcome on the referendum.”
While Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have lent their support to the voting process, they have carefully couched their language in terms of supporting the constitutional review process rather than urging support for the document itself.
The proposed new Kenyan constitution concerns pro-life and church groups both locally and around the world because provisions in it would overturn the current legal protections women and unborn children enjoy and would essentially authorize unlimited abortions despite the pro-life cultural views of most Kenyans.
The United States embassy in Nairobi said it is not providing financial support for the Yes campaign for the August 4 vote on the proposed constitution.
“These claims are categorically false, and those making such allegations are lying,” the statement said, according to APA News. “The US Government is supporting the constitutional review process as the centerpiece of the broad reform agenda agreed to following the post-election crisis.”
That mirrors language coming last week from a representative of Biden.
After publishing a news story compiling the developments over the last two months that LifeNews.com has chronicled, Fox News received a response from Biden’s office.
“Requests for comment sent to the vice president’s office were not initially returned, but following the original publication of this story, Biden’s press secretary, in an e-mail, stressed that while in Kenya the vice president reiterated that it is up the people to decide about their country’s constitution,” the television news station indicated.
That came after Biden told prominent Kenya government officials that passage will “allow money to flow” to the African nation.
“The United States strongly supports the process of constitutional reform. … Dare to reach for transformative change, the kind of change that might come around only once in a lifetime,” he said. “If you make these changes, I promise you, new foreign private investment will come in like you’ve never seen.”
Whether the Obama administration is directly supporting the constitution is a critical question because lobbying for or against abortion is prohibited under a provision of federal law known as the Siljander Amendment annually included in the State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Act.
The amendment reads, “None of the funds made available under this Act may be used to lobby for or against abortion,” and violations are subject to civil and criminal penalties under the Antideficiency Act, 31 U.S.C. § 1341.”
Obama himself has promoted the new constitution in an interview in early June with the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).
He called voting for the document a “singular opportunity to put the government of Kenya on solid footing” and urged Kenyans to”take advantage of the moment.”
Obama tried to couch his language in neutral impartiality, saying “Regardless of whether they vote Yes or No I just want to make sure that they participate,’ but he extolled the virtues of the document to the KBC saying it will promote human rights.
And in May, US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger called on the African nation’s political leaders to rally the people to pass the referendum.
Ranneberger issued a statement praising the Kenya parliament for passing the proposed constitution and urging President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to rally support for it.
He also suggested the Obama administration would fund a national campaign to persuade the people to adopt the document.
Although the draft contains language advocating the right to life for unborn children, it contains a section with a health exception that essentially opens the nation to unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy for any reason.
Joseph Meaney of Human Life International weighed in on the constitution saying it violates the views of most Kenyans who are pro-life.
“Kenyans are pro-life,” he said. “When we see the new articles added to the constitution and approved by parliament under heavy pressure from Western elites, we are seeing an assault on the very heart of the Kenyan people.”
“Perhaps the greatest insult is that this attack is happening under the banner of ‘improving women’s health’. The only ones who believe that killing an unborn child is good for a woman’s health are those who will profit from the slaughter, Western powers who are pouring untold millions of dollars into measures to keep Africa’s children from being born,” he told LifeNews.com.
“This is nothing but population control, an imperialist assault intended to rob Africa of its future by eliminating her children. It is a disgrace,” he said.
A poll conducted March 21–26 by the polling firm Synovate, formerly known as Steadman, shows the citizens of Kenya are overwhelmingly pro-life.
“Thinking about abortion, which of the following is closest to your view?” the firm asked respondents.
Some 69 percent of Kenya residents are against legalizing abortions while just 9 percent support it. Another 16 percent say it doesn’t matter while 6 percent said they had no opinion.
Answering the question, “When do you believe human life begins?” 77 percent of Kenyans stated that life begins at conception, while 19 percent stated that human life begins at the time of birth.
Respondents were also asked about their views concerning the new Kenyan Constitution and the question found only 19 percent support it as currently written, while a majority, 52 percent, want Parliament to revise the document before passage.
Scott Fischbach, the director of MMCL Go, an international pro-life outreach, provided the polling results to LifeNews.com.
“Currently, advocates of abortion are using the issue of maternal mortality and illegal abortions to argue for legalization of the procedure. However, the answer to illegal abortions and high maternal mortality rates is very simple: provide hope, opportunity and support for pregnant women by insuring a clean water supply, clean blood supply and adequate health care,” he said.
“Kenya is a pro-life country and ought not to head toward an abortion-on-demand policy in its new Constitution,” he added.