- Obama’s State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development coordinated with George Soros’ Open Society Foundation
- Documents detail how the State Department allowed the Soros group to review grant applications from other groups seeking taxpayer funding
- The Open Society Foundation itself did not receive any taxpayer funds
Former President Barack Obama’s State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) coordinated with George Soros’ Open Society Foundation to push judicial reform in Albania, according to new documents obtained by Judicial Watch.
The documents, obtained by the watchdog group in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, also detail how the State Department allowed the Soros group to review grant applications from other groups seeking taxpayer funding.
An April 2016 memo shows that the U.S. Embassy in Tirana had “sponsored” a survey with the Open Society Foundation to gauge Albanian citizens’ “knowledge, support and expectations on judicial reform.” The survey found that 91 percent of respondents supported the need for judicial reform.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and five other senators expressed concern that the Soros group had an ulterior motive in pushing judicial reform in a March 2017 letter to then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“Foundation Open society-Albania and its experts, with funding from USAID, have created the controversial Strategy Document for Albanian Judicial Reform,” the letter read. “Some leaders believe that these ‘reforms’ are ultimately aimed to give the Prime Minister and left-of-center government full control over the judiciary.”
Albanian opposition leaders to the ruling left-wing party took to calling the judicial reform effort a “Soros-sponsored reform.”
Another memo, dated February 2017, revealed that the U.S. Embassy in Tirana and the Open Society Foundation Survey each provided funding to an Albanian organization to conduct a second public opinion poll on the judicial reform effort.
That same memo also revealed the U.S. embassy had frequently asked the Open Society Foundation to “participate in technical reviews of application that we receive for funding.”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said it was “outrageous” that the State Department had allowed the Soros group to help determine what groups receive taxpayer funding.
The Open Society Foundation itself did not receive any taxpayer funds. However, groups linked to the Soros organization did, according to the documents.
USAID donated $9 million in 2016 to the East-West Management Institute (EWMI) to implement the “Justice for All” project, a five-year effort that seeks to increase the public’s confidence in Albania’s judicial system.
Delina Fico, who serves as EWMI’s director of civil society programs, once served on the board of Soros’ Open Society Foundation in Albania.
The 2016 donation to EWMI accounts for only a fraction of USAID’s investment in Albania’s justice system. USAID spent $60 million to advance judicial reforms in the country from 2000 to 2015, often with coordination with Soros’ Open Society Foundation, according to the American Spectator.
“George Soros is a billionaire and he shouldn’t be receiving taxpayer support to advance his radical left agenda to undermine freedom here at home and abroad,” Fitton said.
A representative for the Open Society Foundation in a statement to Fox News downplayed the documents as an “unfortunate and misguided effort to politicize” the need for judicial reform in Albania.
“The Open Society Foundations and the U.S. Government shared an interest in helping Albania and other similarly situated countries transition from communism and democracy, and in promoting an independent judiciary,” the spokesperson said. “As the State Department stated in the documents Judicial Watch cited, the US embassy in Tirana ‘has not received any funds from the Open Society Foundation to support any projects or activities,’ nor has it ‘provided any funds to the Open Society Foundation to support their projects or activities.”
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