Ernst demands supervision of taxpayer fund…

WASHINGTON – During National Small Business Week, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Small Business Committee, follows up on her investigation into the United States Agency for International Development’s taxpayer-funded assistance ( USAID) to small businesses. companies in Ukraine.

“As ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I am writing to request information regarding your office’s oversight of the funds provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ukraine. Since November 2023, despite repeated questions, USAID Administrator Power has refused to provide clear or substantive answers to my requests for more information about USAID assistance to SMEs in Ukraine. There is no doubt about it: the American people deserve transparency. This is especially true as USAID has pledged to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on SMEs in Ukraine. Unfortunately, USAID is unwilling to allow transparency and so the job falls to you, the watchdog tasked with ensuring the agency spends taxpayer dollars wisely. Ernst wrote.

“Small businesses in particular are concerned about the sheer volume of subsidies USAID offers to foreign companies, potentially creating competitors for their businesses through rewards to potentially undervalued companies.” continued Ernst.

In the letter, Ernst pointed to some of the projects USAID touted, including a fashion festival for Ukrainian streetwear brands, a trade mission to Bordeaux for “young Ukrainian animator talents” and a designer of “amazing yet functional interior objects,” including a $12,000 coffee voucher . table.

“Sending young Ukrainian artists to Bordeaux only wastes Americans’ hard-earned tax money. I am concerned that USAID sees itself as a slush fund for Ukrainian companies that have nothing to do with the war effort. This is not an effective use of resources to help Ukraine win. To fuel the ongoing discussion about how best to support a Ukrainian victory, we need robust oversight.” continued Ernst.

Ernst demanded answers about how many Ukrainian small businesses receive U.S. taxpayer money through USAID and a breakdown of those rewards; whether these expenditures are reported to federal databases in a timely manner; and whether sufficient due diligence is conducted to identify any ties to Russians among potential winners and ensure that USAID funds do not put Ukrainian small businesses in competition with U.S. companies.

Read the full letter here.