For Immediate Release
Is the Kazakhstan Government Secretly Funding Members of Congress? POGO Asks Attorney General to Investigate
WASHINGTON - Allegations that the government of Kazakhstan may have set up a slush fund to influence members of Congress are serious enough to warrant a federal investigation, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) said today in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The influence-peddling claim originated in a lawsuit filed in federal court by a relative of Rahkat Aliyev, the ex-son-in-law of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Attorneys for the relative entered a letter into the court file purportedly written to Nazarbayev by the Kazakh ambassador to the U.S., in which the ambassador describes efforts to influence members of a congressional caucus created by the Embassy by financing them through a “special foreign currency account.”
The defendants in the case have strongly contested the letter as a forgery, including filing statements by Kazakh government officials and an analysis by a forensic document examiner. However, there is circumstantial evidence that gives considerable credence to some of the letter’s underlying claims.
POGO’s investigation has found campaign contributions from employees of firms hired by the Kazakhstan Embassy. Additionally, documents filed under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) and news reports show that the government of Kazakhstan has used lobbying firms to establish two separate congressional caucuses—“The Friends of Kazakhstan” and the “Central Asia Caucus”—dedicated to supporting its interests.
A recent New York Times report, which was initiated by documents provided by POGO, chronicled a bitter dispute between Aliyev and Nazabaryev. The article found that Aliyev hired his own lobbyists through an apparent “front” company and was able to get five statements read into the Congressional Record that criticized the Kazakhstan government’s record on human rights.
“The dispute between President Nazarbayev and his ex-son-in-law lays bare a host of potential unlawful activities on both sides,” POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said. “Allegations that foreign money was used to influence U.S. policy shouldn’t be buried in a civil lawsuit.”
POGO’s letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, June 2, 2011
Follow the link to see additional resource documents filed in the case.
FRIENDS: Help Us Fight
Independent journalism has become the last firewall against government and corporate lies. Yet, with frightening regularity, independent media sources are losing funding, closing down or being blacked out by Google and Facebook. Never before has independent media been more endangered. If you believe in Common Dreams, if you believe in people-powered independent media, please support us now and help us fight—with truths—against the lies that would smother our democracy. Please help keep Common Dreams alive and growing. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more effective, accountable, open and honest federal government.