By Ethan Bartonm, DCNF
A Snopes.com article attempting to discredit a Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group news story revealing that millions of Department of State tax dollars were sent to a charity created by Secretary of State John Kerry’s daughter was loaded with factual errors and omissions.
The Peace Corps awarded more than $9 million of State Department money to Dr. Vanessa Kerry’s nonprofit for a program she established in conjunction with officials from both agencies. Most of those funds were awarded while Kerry’s father was the nation’s chief diplomat.
The DCNF’s Sept. 12, 2016, article by Investigative Group reporter Ethan Barton was based entirely on multiple government documents and thorough research. The Sept. 12 story was the first of nearly a dozen Kerry revelations.
Snopes.com writer David Emery criticized TheDCNF’s reporting nearly three months later in a Thursday article, but presented no evidence that refuted TheDCNF’s findings. The so-called “investigator of urban legends, rumors, hoaxes & all manner of codswallop,” according to his Twitter bio, also made numerous false statements, starting with the first sentence.
“CLAIM: Secretary of State John Kerry ‘funneled’ taxpayer money into his daughter’s global charity,” Emery wrote. He cited TheDCNF article in detail. But TheDCNF never made that claim and instead quoted government documents describing how the State Department, and not John Kerry, sent money to his daughter’s nonprofit through the Peace Corps.
In other words, Emery’s critique was based on a straw man of his own creation. Emery also did not contact TheDCNF for comment.
The Peace Corps gave Dr. Kerry’s charity – called Seed Global Health – its first State Department-funded award in 2012 while her father was the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations chairman, which oversees the State Department and the Peace Corps, TheDCNF wrote and Emery confirmed.
“However, the inference that Chairman Kerry was personally involved in the appropriation of said funds is fallacious,” Emery wrote. But TheDCNF never made that claim.
Emery described how the State Department’s Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) provided funds to the Peace Corps, then omitted crucial facts that highlight Kerry’s relationship to the money.
Kerry’s committee held the confirmation hearing for Eric Goosby, who was OGAC chief when Seed received its initial award. Dr. Kerry and Peace Corps officials met with Goosby about the three groups’ forging partnership before his office shelled out funding. Kerry had the power under Senate rules to prevent Goosby’s confirmation by putting a hold on it. Emery omitted these facts.
Emery admitted that Goosby’s OGAC successor, Deborah L. Birx, reported to Kerry when Seed received a contract extension in 2015, but he tried distancing their relationship by stating Birx “was appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.”
Emery included full statements from Seed, State Department and Peace Corps officials that deny Kerry’s involvement awarding the funding, but he failed to tell readers those those remarks were first published by TheDCNF’s original article.
Emery also pulled quotes from a 2012 interview. “My dad has had nothing directly to do with it,” Kerry told Public Radio International. “I barely told him about it.”
But TheDCNF’s investigation revealed that Kerry’s charity was started in her father’s palatial Boston home. He later boasted in a 2014 World AIDS Day speech that the State Department (and not OGAC) would expand on Seed’s partnership. Emery omitted those details, as well as the fact that the 2015 contract extension awarded to Seed violated Peace Corps policy.
Emery defended the Peace Corps’ non-competitive award of federal tax dollars to Seed by claiming it met requirements for sole-source procurements, saying “[D]oing so is neither unethical nor illegal under federal law. Given that Seed Global Health was expressly conceived to provide specialized services … it would appear to meet all necessary criteria for an exception …”
Yet TheDCNF revealed the poor market research Peace Corps officials conducted to rule out other nonprofits, which Emery omitted.
He also neglected details TheDCNF revealed showing that the Peace Corps took critical steps to help the grow program by providing taxpayer dollars to fund international trips for Seed staff.
Additionally, Emery excluded Seed’s failures, which were so serious, they resulted in contractual modifications. TheDCNF reported those in detail.
Emery also misstated the organization that conducted the investigation. It was The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group, not The Daily Caller.
“It wasn’t about you, or DC, it was about the facts,” Emery told TheDCNF when asked why didn’t contact Barton for comment. “We called out Breitbart, too. The case wasn’t proven.”
Finally, Emery never linked to TheDCNF article, thus preventing readers from judging its accuracy for themselves.
Follow Ethan on Twitter.
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