Vice President Mike Pence interfered in the grant-making procedures of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to ensure that more public support flowed to Christian groups, the investigative journalism nonprofit ProPublica has reported.
The piece by Yeganeh Torbati, who covers the federal government for ProPublica, asserted, "Decisions about U.S. aid are often no longer being governed by career professionals applying a rigorous review of applicants and their capabilities. Over the last two years, political pressure, particularly from the office of Vice President Mike Pence, had seeped into aid deliberations and convinced key decisionmakers that unless they fell in line, their jobs could be at stake."
USAID regulations state that awards "must be free from political interference or even the appearance of such interference and must be made on the basis of merit, not on the basis of the religious affiliation of a recipient organization, or lack thereof."
But according to ProPublica, Trump administration political appointees are intervening in the process to steer funds to Christian organizations. In one recent case, USAID awarded grants to two Iraqi organizations that career officials (who are not political appointees) had previously turned down for aid. ProPublica reported, "Political appointees significantly impacted the latest awards, according to interviews with officials and other people aware of the process. Typically, such appointees have little to no involvement in USAID grants, to avoid perceptions of undue political influence on procurement."
ProPublica noted that one of the groups selected for aid has no fulltime paid staff and had never handled a government grant before. The other group won a grant only after its leaders complained publicly that the United States was not giving enough support to...