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Let’s Cut Corrupt Spending With an IG for the Ukraine War

Accountability Clock

For the last 18 months, the United States has been shoveling money to one of the most corrupt governments in the world — Ukraine — with no end in sight.  At President Biden’s request, and with the support of the Uniparty in Congress, our country has handed the Ukraine government about $115 billion, or over $200 million of taxpayer money every day since the war began.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, Congress passed two bills to provide $13.6 billion and $41.6 billion in military and humanitarian funding.  That was just the start.  In FY 2023, Congress passed two more bills providing an additional $12.3 billion and $47.4 billion. And, on top of those, President Biden signed the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022, sponsored by nominal Republican Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), authorizing Biden to “lend” additional military equipment to Ukraine.  In the House, no Democrats, and only 10 Republicans were brave enough to vote no on that bill, including Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Tom Massie (R-KY).

Beginning well before the war began, Ukraine was often described as “the most corrupt nation in Europe.”  One measure of public corruption termed the “Corruption Perceptions Index” ranked Ukraine as having the same level of corruption as Algeria, Angola, and Zambia.  If the United States wanted to spend that money honestly and efficiently, you would think that it would do all it could to track and trace the money sent into that type of country.  The most obvious way would be to task an independent officer of the United States with the responsibility and authority to see where the money is spent — an Inspector General.  But “the powers that be” do not want the money tracked, and we can only speculate as to why they so vigorously oppose spending accountability to the taxpayers.

Certainly not all the money appropriated is just handed over to the Ukrainian government — much of it is paid out to what President Eisenhower warned against — “the Military-Industrial Complex.”

Our major defense contractors are so tied to the Ukrainian government that when the Ukrainian Ambassador held a reception last December at the Ronald Reagan Building, the event was sponsored by: Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies, and Lockheed Martin.  “Each of their stocks has climbed since Russia’s invasion, with Lockheed up about 38 percent” last year.  So it’s not just about tracing money, it’s about tracing military equipment.  One would think we would want to know where arms go.  After all, the United States has strict laws governing the commercial export of arms, and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations are administered by the Department of State.  But we do not really know what rules are being followed on these weapons shipped to the Ukraine.

Last year, officials admitted to “[t]he Wall Street Journal that they have ‘little direct knowledge’ of where equipment goes once it reaches the Ukrainian government.”  Two proposals were considered in the Senate to have greater Congressional oversight.  The more meaningful of the proposals was offered by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) to empower the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) to handle oversight of Ukraine funding as well, which failed.

Just last month, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a nearly trillion-dollar defense spending bill called the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2024 (NDAA) Republican senators proposed to create an Inspector General for Ukraine, but the amendment required 60 votes to cut off debate, and died with a vote of 50-49 in favor.  Senator Paul proposed essentially the same amendment as he did last year to empower SIGAR to track Ukraine spending, which failed 20-78.

Is oversight on Ukraine spending really a waste of time and money?  Not if past is prologue: 

In the recent history of conflicts involving the US, there has been an increasing number of incidents of war material diversion, with US weapons falling into the “wrong hands”.…  The result is that terrorist organizations, extremist militias, paramilitary groups and drug traffickers around the world benefit from this, purchasing such weapons illegally….  Ukraine is home to one of the largest black arms markets on the European continent.  In short, trafficking networks operate freely in the country … which is certainly a consequence of the widespread corruption of Ukrainian public agents.

What have American taxpayers received for this colossal investment?  Where has the money gone?  We are told, “tracking every dollar of appropriated funds is difficult.”  On the other hand, misspending every dollar of appropriated funds is easy.

Recent U.S. spending in Afghanistan shows how easily money can be lost.  The SIGAR office reviewed the U.S.’s funding of $134 billion to the Afghan government since overthrowing the Taliban, and found that one-third of the funds reviewed ($19 billion out of $63 billion reviewed) had been lost to waste, fraud, and abuse.  This does not count the colossal losses when U.S. equipment was abandoned to Taliban forces at Biden’s botched scramble to withdraw from the country, which “delivered roughly $24 billion worth of American equipment — including almost 600,000 small arms and artillery pieces, 75,898 vehicles, and 208 aircraft — to the Taliban.”

If having an Inspector General (IG) review spending is really a waste of time, as many in the Uniparty seem to believe, why do we have them at all?  The U.S. government recently was reported to have 72 statutory IGs tasked with combating waste, fraud, and abuse across most departments and agencies.  But war spending is apparently different.

As Senator Paul fruitlessly argued to his fellow senators, “Given the fast-evolving situation on the ground in Ukraine and the significant sums already committed, the American taxpayers deserve the oversight experience of tried-and-true investigatory personnel to detect and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.”

In funding the Ukraine war, Congress lives by one rule: “if you don’t want to find corruption, you certainly don’t want to look for it.”  Each Senator or Congressman who has opposed Senator Paul’s amendment should be held to account.

Click here to go to the IN FOCUS – Defund The Federal Beast page.

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