ACLJ Takes Legal Action Again: Targets State Department for Funding Campaign to ‘Take Down’ Israel’s Prime Minister
As we reported, earlier this month, a bi-partisan Senate Committee issued a report exposing the Obama State Department’s funding of campaign infrastructure used to oppose Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection in 2015.
Now we are taking action. This week, we sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the State Department, demanding information that will reveal who in the Obama Administration is responsible for the decision to fund political activity aimed at ousting the head of state of one of our greatest allies – and why.
Here’s what we know: The Obama State Department awarded $349,276 to a politically active organization called OneVoice and according to the Senate report, “within days after the grant period ended, OneVoice deployed the campaign infrastructure and resources created using grant funds to support an anti-Netanyahu political campaign called V15.”
We know that the State Department gave OneVoice $349,276 when, according to the Senate report, “[t]he average overseas award for State Department grantees is roughly $15,000.” And in 2013, when OneVoice’s grant period began, “the average award was $75,000.”
We know that the OneVoice/V15 campaign was designed “to take [Netanyahu] down,” and to elect “anybody but Bibi.” It is against the rules for grants to be used like that.
We know that OneVoice told the State Department of its plans, yet State Department officials say they didn’t read those emails. They just kept giving money to OneVoice.
So while the Senate report indicated OneVoice committed no wrongdoing, the reason should sound an alarm – OneVoice’s contracts with the State Department allowed OneVoice to do what it did.
And we know that more Obama Administration emails have been deleted:
The State Department was unable to produce all documents responsive to the Subcommittee’s requests due to its failure to retain complete email records of Michael Ratney, who served as U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem during the award and oversight of the OneVoice grants.
In fact, Mr. Ratney admitted to the Senate Committee that he deleted emails and attachments, and did not archive them.
Bear in mind that one OneVoice employee said in an email recovered by the Senate Committee that he “was anxious not to put a lot of sensitive stuff in email, as instructed.” That person refused to talk to the Senate Committee.
The information we seek in our FOIA request will shed light on this Obama Administration scandal.
And make no mistake. It’s a scandal: The State Department’s gave nearly $350,000 U.S. taxpayer dollars to OneVoice, which had told the State Department during the grant period that it was building a political campaign to “take down” the leader of our greatest ally in the Middle East. Somebody told OneVoice not to say certain things in emails. In the aftermath, the State Department asked OneVoice to stop stating publically (and on its website) that the State Department was OneVoice’s “partner” – and emails were deleted.
And that’s why we are taking action. In our FOIA request, we seek
all records indicating what DOS officials knew about the plans, strategy and activities of OneVoice when the decisions to award the grant funds were made, who was involved in the decisions, and how DOS officials responded once the connection between the grant funds and the activities of OneVoice were publicized.
As we said before, this is “just the latest in a long line of attempts by the Obama Administration to weaken Israel on the world’s stage.”
We recently delivered FOIA requests to the Department of Justice regarding Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s recent secret meeting with former President Bill Clinton that occurred just days before the FBI “interviewed” his wife, the subject of that criminal investigation, and then dropped its criminal investigation of her mishandling of emails – clearing her of any criminal wrongdoing. And:
We are already in federal court now in our lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State over its deletion of official press briefing video to hide lies about the Iran deal negotiations, and we anticipate that we will be in court soon regarding other legal requests we’ve made to the Obama Administration regarding its manipulation of the Orlando terrorist’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS.
We’ve also submitted FOIA requests to the State Department regarding its efforts to stop the ISIS genocide against Christians, and to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over its decision to purge “offensive” Islamic terms, such as “jihad,” from law enforcement and intelligence training material and other government documents.
The scandals never stop. And neither must we. The Obama Administration must be held accountable. We are willing to do it. We are doing it. But we need your help. Stand with us: Sign our Petition to stand with Israel and our Petition to demand accountability today.