Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R) said the State Department funding granted to a group lobbying against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “a big, huge deal and warrants some deep investigation.”
OneVoice, a 501(c)3 organization, partnered with anti-Bibi campaign committee V15, which in turn partnered with 270 Strategies — a political consulting firm with more than a dozen staffers who were in leadership roles in President Obama’s re-election campaign. One of those is Jeremy Bird, who served as national field director for Obama’s 2012 campaign and was reportedly working in Israel to defeat Netanyahu.
Kinzinger told Fox “this is a huge, huge issue.”
“I mean, I don’t know at least of overtly before the U.S. government has ever funded an organization that funded a subsidiary whose sole purpose was to overthrow an elected government of an ally, of a friend. I mean, Benjamin Netanyahu is not a major opponent of the United States. He’s a friend of the United States,” the congressman said. “The Israel people are friends. If, in fact, this is true that the State Department — I mean, money is fungible. So money was given to this group, OneVoice, and they gave money to the subsidiary Victory 15, whose sole purpose stated is to overthrow or dis-elect the current government.”
The State Department has denied that OneVoice was involved in the Israeli election, and said the group got its funding before the election was called.
Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters yesterday that the department has “historically” cooperated with investigations of the variety it will likely now face.
“I mean, in this case, we’ve only seen the reports. We don’t have any more details… I don’t think we’ve had any official notification of this inquiry or this investigation,” Psaki said.
Called out on the assertion that the department “historically” cooperates in congressional probes, one reporter dropped a Benghazi reference: “There’s a certain select committee that I think would disagree.”
“Well, we would disagree that we haven’t cooperated, and so would 40,000 pages and dozens of hearings’ worth of evidence suggest,” Psaki fired back.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen earlier this month asking for information on OneVoice’s tax-exempt status. They sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry in January asking about any U.S. funding of anti-Netanyahu campaigns.
Zeldin called it “abundantly clear that OneVoice, a U.S. taxpayer funded 501(c)(3), is fully engaged in political activities to oust the Israeli prime minister.”
“It is important for IRS Commissioner Koskinen to assist with our efforts to hold OneVoice responsible for any possible violation of its tax exempt status,” the freshman congressman added. “U.S. law must always be consistently enforced, and the IRS Commissioner must not make any special exception for OneVoice.”
Cruz said the Obama administration “seems much more interested in regime change in Jerusalem than in Tehran.”