A spokesperson for Open Society Foundations told The Daily Caller that the group was trying to “boost democratic practice” by secretly funneling $135,000 to foreign government officials.
As originally reported by TheDC, from July 2013 to February 2015 OSF secretly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to four key staffers working for the prime minister of Moldova, including chief of staff Eugen Sturza. The organization, which is controlled by liberal billionaire George Soros, worked around Moldovan laws by funneling the money through a German non-profit.
A leaked July 2014 memo revealed the payments, which were approved by now-OSF regional director Leonard Benardo.
“Due to the constraints in the Moldovan legislation, OSF cannot directly pay staff members of PM office. The advisors will be paid as research consultants within a project run by a German think tank — the Institute for European Policies (Institut für Europäische Politik),” the memo said.
OSF paid each of the staffers $33,750 between July 2014 and February 2015 for a total of $135,000. An additional $6,750 marked as “admin cost” went to the Institute for European Policies.
It’s unclear how much money OSF shelled out between July 2013 and July 2014, but the memo states that the organization was paying three of the staffers during that time period (the fourth started receiving payments in July 2014).
An OSF spokesperson said the payments were “an effort to work with civil society and governments to boost democratic practice and strengthen human rights” in a statement released to TheDC.
“A number of Open Society Foundations internal documents, including strategies, work plans, and funding requests, have been published after being removed from an online community that served as a resource for our staff, board members, and partners. In some cases, the materials reflect big-picture strategies over several years from within the Open Society Foundations network, which supports human rights, democratic practice, and the rule of law in more than 100 countries around the world. This attack is a symptom of an aggressive assault on civil society and human rights activists that is taking place globally,” the statement said.
“The project described in the document you reference aimed to undertake in-depth research and explore possible recommendations on how to make headway towards resolving the seemingly intractable Transnistria conflict, an important provision in Moldova’s Association Agreement with the European Union. Part of the researchers’ mission was to share the recommendations as advice with the prime minister and his cabinet. What you call ‘backdoor bankrolling’ is an effort to work with civil society and governments to boost democratic practice and strengthen human rights.”