NOVEMBER 10, 2016
In its crusade to tackle the Ebola crisis in Africa the Obama administration violated its own laws by frantically doling out tens of millions of dollars to leftist groups that claimed they could help control the virus from spreading in the continent’s western region. Congress dedicated a breathtaking $2.5 billion to deal with Africa’s Ebola crisis but the funds came with rules to keep the allocation process in check and they were repeatedly violated, according to a federal audit made public this month.
At least $60 million was fraudulently dispersed to nongovernmental organizations and other efforts without the proper steps to assure the American taxpayer funds were going to valid groups and causes. The famously corrupt government agency in charge of the money, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is well known for doling out huge sums to controversial and highly questionable global causes and Ebola was simply another notch in its belt. Despite the waste, so much money was dedicated to the African health crisis that hundreds of millions of dollars were left over. This only became public when the Obama administration decided to dedicate $510 million of unspent Ebola money to combat the Zika virus that struck here at home earlier this year.
This illustrates that the administration acted hastily to a health emergency thousands of miles away. Besides allocating huge sums of money, the president also executed an outrageous plan that admitted Ebola-infected non-U.S. citizens to the United States for treatment. The plan included special waivers of federal laws and regulations that ban the admission of non-citizens with a communicable disease as dangerous as Ebola. Judicial Watch was the first to report the backdoor deal in 2014 after high-level government sources disclosed details of the plan, which was kept secret from Congress. The administration subsequently offered a special Ebola amnesty for African nations, including Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
In the meantime, U.S. dollars kept flowing to Africa. A chunk of it went to “reimburse” groups that had supposedly conducted Ebola control activities before Congress allocated money for the cause. That’s when USAID embarked on a cash giveaway, reimbursing nearly 300 groups. In at least 21 cases, the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), found that the payments did not comply with the law and that the money should be returned, which is highly unlikely. “Because USAID did not have the legal authority to make the reimbursements that were not in accordance with the reimbursement provisions in the Act, these reimbursements represent unauthorized transfers,” the report states. It turns out that USAID doesn’t even have official polices or procedures for doling out money in these cases. “As a result, USAID does not have a process that could provide reasonable assurance that it complies with reimbursement provisions of applicable appropriations laws, such as the reimbursement provisions in the act,” congressional investigators write in their report.
As if this weren’t bad enough, large sums of taxpayer dollars kept going to Africa even after the so-called health crisis was under control, “as the numbers of new Ebola cases declined,” the GAO report states. USAID claims this was part of an initiative to focus on longer-term efforts to “strengthen global health security.” Despite the corruption surrounding this program, Uncle Sam will continue sending money for Ebola related causes in Africa and it’s unlikely that there will be any consequences for blowing $60 million. “USAID and State have funded a range of activities to control the outbreak and will continue to fund longer-term efforts to mitigate the second-order effects and strengthen global health security,” GAO investigators write.
This is just a snippet of USAID’s egregious operating system. With a massive budget and little oversight, the agency is charged with providing global economic, development and humanitarian assistance. That means big bucks go to all sorts of preposterous initiatives in countries that are unlikely to be a priority for Americans as they suffer through economic hardships and high unemployment at home. A few examples reported by Judicial Watch over the years include $55 million to build a mere 816 houses in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, $24.5 million to circumcise males in Swaziland, $20 million to develop a Pakistani version of Sesame Street and $10 million to train Filipinos to work in Asian call centers that serve U.S. businesses.
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