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Ethics Group Asks USAID Inspector General to Investigate Legality of Grants to Soros Groups
Date:10/23/2007

FALLS CHURCH, Va., Oct. 23 -- Today the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) asked the Inspector General of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to investigate the possibility that the agency is violating federal law by funding nonprofit groups operating needle exchange programs for drug users in Central Asia.

Organizations affiliated with billionaire political activist George Soros are recipients of these legally questionable grants.

Since 1989, Congress has restricted the use of federal funds for the purchase of needles, syringes, and other materials for the purpose of illegal drug use. Despite this prohibition, USAID has awarded millions of dollars in contracts to Soros-affiliated organizations engaged in needle exchange activities.

NLPC's request is prompted by documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which demonstrate that USAID collaborates with Soros-affiliated nonprofit groups to skirt the law. Between 2001 and 2007 USAID awarded grants totaling $18.3 million to the Open Society Institute, the Soros Foundation Kazakhstan and the Alliance for Open Society International, all Soros-affiliated groups.

Grant documents obtained by NLPC acknowledge Congressional intent but seem to rely on an extremely narrow interpretation of federal law that bans funding "to provide individuals with hypodermic needles." The documents state that private Soros funds would be used to purchase the needles, while the overhead for the programs would be borne by U.S. taxpayers.

NLPC Director of Policy John Carlisle said, "This is a little too clever. Needles cost pennies each. Congressional intent is very clear. An investigation is necessary to determine if the law has been violated."

USAID behaves as if it has something to hide. It took 21 months for the agency to respond to NLPC's FOIA requests. USAID only turned over the documents after NLPC retained a lawyer and threatened legal action.

In addition to the HIV grants, USAID and the US State Department have given millions of dollars to Soros' nonprofits to operate education programs and other civil society initiatives in various nations. Since 2001, USAID and State Department grants to the Soros nonprofit network total at least $25.6 million.

Carlisle says, "Soros is worth $8.5 billion. Why is such a controversial figure getting government money in the first place? He should pay for his pet political projects himself."

NLPC today released a Special Report titled Soros Groups Receive Taxpayer Funds: State Department Collaborates in Skirting of U.S. Law Against Promoting Drug Use and Prostitution. It may be downloaded as a pdf file at http://www.nlpc.org/pdfs/SorosSpecialReportFINAL.pdf

In 2005, NLPC filed a formal Complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), alleging extensive apparent violations by Soros of the Federal Election Campaign Act during 2004. (http://www.nlpc.org/pdfs/SorosFEC1-18-05.PDF). The Complaint is currently under review.

NLPC promotes ethics in public life, and sponsors the Government Integrity Project.


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SOURCE National Legal and Policy Center
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