The State Department’s other email scandal

Barack Obama vs Benjamin Netanyahu

Email problems just continue to plague our great State Department. The emails in question, this time, may have implicated them in indirectly funding a campaign to defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. How convenient. This is according to a report issued by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations. The controversy started in 2015 after reporter Roi Arad wrote a story claiming the group One Voice, a political nonprofit, “is bankrolling” the V15 campaign, a group that was advocating for left wing control of Israel’s government. In their words, because they weren’t legally able to support a specific candidate, they supported “just not Bibi.”

The report issued by the Permanent Senate Subcommittee on Investigations said the controversy centered around a grant issued to a nonprofit named One Voice. The political activist group received a grant for more than $300,000 that they used to garner public support for peace talks between Israel and Palestine. According to the report, the group used this funding to build up online infrastructure and a grassroots network, then used their newly formed apparatus to affect the election after their 14 month grant period. According to the report the group One Voice “expanded its social media presence, built a larger voter database and hired an American political consulting firm to train its activist and executives in grassroots organizing methods.”

The group launched a campaign to promote the peace process between Israel and Palestine. The committee found no evidence to suggest they used grant money to influence the Israeli 2015 election directly. This, of course, doesn’t negate the fact that US tax dollars were used to beef up this organization’s clout so they could wield it to sway the elections.

The report goes on to say:

“Soon after the grant period ended, however, One Voice used the campaign infrastructure and resources built, in part, with State Department grants funds to support V15. In service of V15, One Voice deployed its social media platform, which more than doubled during the State Department grant period; used its database of voter contact information including email addresses, which OVI expanded during the grant period; and enlisted its network of trained activist, many of whom were recruited or trained under the grant, to support and recruit for V15. This pivot to electoral politics was consistent with a strategic plan developed by One Voice leadership and emailed to State Department officials during the grant period. The State Department diplomat who received the plan told the Subcommittee that he never reviewed it.”

As early as August 2014 the leadership in One Voice were crafting a strategy to take on what they referred to as a right-wing government saying in an internal email provided to the committee. “SHIFT SUPPORT WITHIN THE KNESSET AWAY FROM LIKUD/RIGHT WING COALITION BY ADVOCATING TO SWINGCENTRIST VOTER’S [sic] POLICIES AND SUPPORT POLITICAL CANDIDATES WHO EMBRACE AN EXPEDITED NEGOTIATION TOWARD A [TWO-STATE SOLUTION] AND THE END OF SETTLEMENT EXPANSION.”

Our State Department and the American taxpayers, you and me, helped build this political machine that sought to oust the current prime minister of Israel. The Subcommittee asked the State Department to produce all documents related to this debacle, but the State Department was unable to produce all emails due to its failure to retain complete email records, particularly that of Michael Ritney, the US Counsel General in Jerusalem who oversaw the award of the grants. Mr. Ritney also maintained regular contact with the group’s leaders. The subcommittee only knew to ask about certain key emails between Mr. Ritney and One Voice because One Voice turned over emails that didn’t match the correspondence in the emails they received from Mr. Ritney. When asked about this, Mr.Ritney stated “At times I deleted emails with attachments I didn’t need in order to archive emails to stay below storage limits.” He also said he “did not know he was required to archive routine emails.” Imagine saying that to any government agency investigating you. It gets worse, though.

One Voice and V15, another political organization, formed a partnership.  The individual brought in to consult V15 in their grassroots effort was Jeremy Bird. You may be asking yourself, who is this Jeremy Bird? Jeremy Bird is the guru behind the Obama’s grassroots and online campaign. Mr.Bird a founding partner of 270 Strategies, the political consulting firm that had worked closely with One Voice consulting them with their peace talks campaign. Bird was wildly praised and sought after, becoming a key figure in Obama’s data-driven presidential bid. Jeremy also led the efforts with the group Battleground Texas, who are attempting a long term strategy to turn Texas blue utilizing the growing Latino population. One Voice paid 270 Strategies $40,000 to help build their grassroots movement.

If I could describe this, I would say it is lawlessness on a grand scale. You have groups with ties to the Obama regime attempting to unseat an ally in another country’s election. These people will use any lever of power from within and outside of the law and government to reach their long-term goal of implementing their progressive agenda. As always, the individuals involved in this managed to skirt the law, but the stench of impropriety is palpable. This report doesn’t surprise me one bit. Obama has shown nothing but disdain for Bibi Netanyahu and the state of Israel. This isn’t a one-off occurrence, either. Obama operative David Axelrod tried and failed to influence the UK elections. He failed in embarrassing fashion. This regime’s in your face, catch me if you can brand of lawlessness is eroding the very fabric of this country. A nation without justice cannot have liberty. These two things cannot function independently from each other.

The State Department operates a slush fund in excess of 1.8 billion dollars awarding over 17,000 grants. The majority of them going overseas to the tune of over $1.6 billion dollars. The GAO concluded in a report of the State Department Foreign Assistance Grant Programs that more than 80% of grants reviewed, GAO found that State officials either failed to look for risk at all or skipped “key elements of the risk identification process, such as review of the recipient’s financial systems and internal controls”.

This report only highlights the complete mismanagement and possible corruption in the hapless bureaucracy known as the Department of State.

Kevin Batts

I'm a veteran and I spent two tours overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m from Oklahoma, but I reside in the great state of Texas. I work in the energy sector. I was raised in extreme poverty by a single parent who did all she could to raise my sisters and I. During my time in the military I struggled with severe PTSD. Without God, I wouldn't have made it through these struggles. My experiences, both good and bad, helped shape my worldview. I’m a believer of conservative and Libertarian principles. In my heart, I'm a Conservatarian, a classic liberal and a promoter of the bill of rights and the rule of law. At the intersection of liberty & justice is where you will find me. I've never been comfortable with blind nationalism. I love America. Most of all I love American exceptionalism. I love the principles enshrined in the bill of rights and the limits placed on the federal government through the constitution. Our liberty is what makes us exceptional. Small "r" republicanism is what keeps us from killing each other. These ideals aren't about perfection. There are no utopias in this life. We can only succeed when we strive to leave each other to our own endeavors with love, compassion and malice toward none.