House Republicans are calling for an investigation into why federal taxpayer-funded campaign grants were given to Democratic operatives politically linked to President Biden during the 2020 cycle.
GOP lawmakers on the House Oversight and Reform Committee sent a letter to the Inspector General of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) requesting the investigation. The EAC is a nonpartisan federal agency that helps states administer elections.
“For more than a year, we have repeatedly raised questions about the lack of oversight of disbursed federal grant funds,” the lawmakers wrote in Friday’s letter.
In the letter, a copy of which was obtained exclusively by The Washington Times, Republicans argued that greater scrutiny is needed on how taxpayers’ money was spent to spur voting at the height of the crisis. coronavirus pandemic.
Of particular concern is a $35 million campaign grant to SKD Knickerbocker in 2020 from California’s Democratic Secretary of State.
The grant, which was to be used to educate voters on the state’s new mail-in ballot laws, raised eyebrows since SKD was one of the main public relations firms working on Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign.
“This gross abuse of taxpayers’ money is ripe for investigation,” said Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the top Republican on the oversight committee.
More troubling, lawmakers said, is that when the grant was awarded, California’s secretary of state and chief election officer was Alex Padilla. After Mr. Biden won the White House, Mr. Padilla was nominated for the Senate seat vacated by Vice President Kamala Harris.
Mr. Padilla’s Senate office did not return requests for comment on the story.
The potential conflict of interest was significant enough that at the beginning of the year The EAC has agreed to launch an audit of how California spent its campaign grants. Republicans say little progress has been made on that investigation.
“Whenever taxpayers’ money is potentially wasted, abused or mismanaged, an inspector general must launch an investigation and reveal any wrongdoing,” Comer said.
Rep. Jody Hice, a Georgia Republican on the Oversight Committee, and Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, the senior Republican on the House Administration Committee, joined Mr. Comer in sending the letter.
California is just one of the issues they found when looking at how taxpayer dollars were spent to promote voting ahead of the 2020 election.
Oversight lawmakers noted that of the $400 million earmarked for the EAC last year, only $326 million was accounted for by the agency. In addition, the Government Accountability Office estimated that at least 20% of grants disbursed had irregularities requiring review.
“The failure to accurately track state spending on federal grants has potentially enabled significant waste, fraud, and abuse by many states,” the GOP lawmakers wrote.