Politics

U.S. officials cleared of violating federal law in push for Kenyan constitution

Amanda Carey Contributor

A State Department report released late last week clears the Obama administration, and specifically the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger, of improperly supporting the new Kenyan constitution that legalizes abortion.

The report, produced by the State Department’s Office of Inspector General, concludes that it did not find that U.S. officials made “any private or public statements … expressing either a positive or negative position on the abortion provision in the draft Kenyan constitution, nor did they attempt to influence any Kenyan’s opinion, either positively or negatively, on the abortion provision.”

As The Daily Caller previously reported, an investigation initiated by three Republican lawmakers – Republican Reps. Darrell Issa of California, Chris Smith of New Jersey, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida – revealed that the U.S. has spent $23 million in support of the “Yes” campaign in Kenya which sought to promote a new Kenyan constitution, a provision of which legalized abortion.

There was concern that the financial support, as well as verbal support by President Obama and members of his administration, violated a federal law known as the Siljander Amendment. The law forbids lobbying by the U.S. government for or against abortion.

Earlier this summer, Vice President Biden visited Kenya and said during a speech that the U.S. “strongly supports the process of a constitutional reform.” He also added that, “If you make these changes, I promise you, new foreign private investment will come in like you’ve never seen.”

Additionally, Ambassador Ranneberger told Kenyans that the U.S. was ready to shell out $2 million to support the constitutional process and the “implementation of the reform agenda.”

While the report clears Ranneberger of lobbying specifically for the abortion provision in the Kenyan constitution, it did note that the ambassador was “advocating for a ‘Yes’ vote on the constitution itself.”

Concerning the $23 million of federal funds that went to pro-abortion groups in Kenya supporting the new proposed constitution, the report says that Ranneberger did “not review the specific grant language and had been unaware of the specific wording.” Thus, because the ambassador was unaware of the specific Kenyan groups that had been awarded grants, he cannot be charged with violating any law.

Rep. Chris Smith’s office did not respond to requests to comment by press time.