Link to Printable PDF of this Report: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1L_EohXZiGYafqJ_hSqxseRDUSZaR0Nix/view?usp=sharing
This video is an introduction and overview of my report from December 8, 2019 about US Congress member, Tim Walberg’s speeches in Ukraine. Link to original report:
The video contains two significant new findings about Walberg’s Trips to Ukraine, which are discussed further in this follow-up report.
· Walberg Lied in Filing to House Ethics Committee
· Walberg, Gohmert, & DeVos: Theocratic Shadow Diplomacy in Ukraine
Walberg Lied in Filing to the House Ethics Committee
Link to Walberg’s Ethics Filing for Ukraine Trip: http://clerk.house.gov/GTImages/MT/2019/500021482.pdf
When congress members accept privately-funded trips, in their official capacity, there is a standard approval process with the House Ethics committee:
· Pre-Travel Form: Filed by the trip sponsor, which includes cost estimates, source of funding for the trip, and an agenda listing all planned activities on the trip.
· Review by the Committee on Ethics: accompanied by a letter approving, or disapproving of the trip.
· Post-Travel Forms: after the trip, both the trip sponsor, and the congress member must submit forms showing the actual costs of the trip, and disclose any changes in activities from the sponsor’s planned agenda
The Ethics filing for Walberg’s 2019 Ukraine trip contains contradictions, violations, and lies, some of which should have been caught and flagged in the review by the Ethics committee. The Three Problems that I have identified pertain to:
1) Source of funding for the trip
2) Exorbitant airfare & VIP lounge expenses
3) Walberg lied about his activities from the sponsor’s agenda
1) Source of Funding for the Trip
Glaring Contradiction in Ethics Filing regarding Source of Funds for Walberg’s Trip
The most glaring contradiction in Walberg’s ethics filing pertains to the source of funding for his trip. In the very first line, the sponsor claimed that the trip was funded, “by the donations” to the organizing committee. The sponsor contradicted that below, by claiming to have, “not accepted from any other source, funds intended directly or indirectly to finance any aspect of the trip”.
The sponsor should have chosen the other option, “sponsor has accepted funds from other source(s) intended directly or indirectly to finance all or part of the trip” That option then requires a listing of the names of each of those entities, with attached disclosure forms for each of the entities that funded the trip.
Ukraine is not a wealthy country. Yet, the photos of the event that Walberg attended show extravagance: VIP American guests in a large convention center, with surround sound systems, music, stage lighting, custom animated screen graphics, huge outdoor banners, table cloths, serving staff, etc.
Furthermore, as discussed in the next section, the sponsor upgraded and paid for Walberg’s first-class travel and VIP airport lounge. And as discussed in the subsequent section, the sponsor also organized an entire second prayer breakfast event in another city, Zhytomyr: That event consisted of an outdoor stage in the city square with chairs, a slate of performing artists and stage crews, custom banners just for that one event, and none of that was even mentioned in the trip agenda. Walberg attended it though. – Who paid of all of that? Who were the deep-pocketed donors, who gave Walberg the first-class VIP treatment, ostensibly “in connection with” his official duties as a member of the US House of Representatives?
The space to disclose those answers is required on the Ethics form. The House Ethics Committee neglected to enforce it, and let the unaccounted funding sources, and glaring contradiction slip through under their watch in the filing.
2) Exorbitant Airfare & VIP Lounge Expenses
Walberg’s travel costs greatly exceeded estimates, & were unnecessary to official duties
Walberg’s post-travel form shows costs exceeded the pre-travel estimate by $13,508. That excess expense could pay-in-full for a nice used vehicle with low mileages at a local car dealership.
That excess expense was mostly due to Walberg’s airfare cost. Walberg claimed in the pre-travel filing that the airfare was business class, and according to the rules on the form, any first-class travel would require an explanation to the Ethics Committee. That excess airfare cost can only be explained by an advancement to first class, because business class ticket costs do not fluctuate by tens of thousands of dollars.
For Comparison, Walberg’s Gift Travel filing to a Baptist University Graduation in Romania in 2016, cost $4,365, which matched exactly with that trip’s estimated cost. When Walberg traveled to the Ukraine Prayer Breakfast in 2015, the airfare cost $2,000, it also matched exactly with its original estimated cost. Neither of those earlier trips included any Airport VIP lounge expenses.
Clearly, the sponsor decided to splurge on Walberg, and give him a first-class VIP treatment. For the Ethics committee to let that disparity slip through without any remark was negligence. According to the rules on the form, any first class travel required an explanation. Also, Walberg exhibited dishonesty and bad faith by claiming that the first class and VIP expenses were “necessary” to his official duties as a Congress member.
3) Walberg Lied About his Activities from the Sponsor’s Agenda
Walberg lied to Ethics Committee about activities that he did & did not participate in
For this third problem, I entirely blame Walberg for falsely certifying in his Ethics filing to having participated in activities that he did not actually participate in, as well neglecting to mention a lot of other significant activities from the trip. I don’t blame the Ethics committee for not knowing that Walberg lied to them about that.
On October 1, 2019, at a coffee hour event, myself and several other constituents asked Walberg about that discrepancy in his schedule from the Ethics filing. [Exhibit Below]
Video (47:40 mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2RRPIDc3Jg
Walberg was proud to say he passed the Ethics requirements, and that the financing, travel, and schedule were, “fine-tooth combed” by the committee. Then in the next breath, Walberg admitted to us that the schedule that he submitted to the Ethics committee was incorrect. Walberg falsely certified to the Ethics Committee that the Schedule was, “true, complete, and correct”. The Ethics form provided Walberg with space, and required him to explain any change in activity from the agenda, but Walberg left that space blank.
Several of us after that coffee hour continued to be concerned and frustrated by Walberg’s lack of candor and contradictions surrounding his Ukraine trip. The next week, one of the attendees outlined those concerns in a Letter to the Editor to the Monroe News. Link to letter:
Seemingly, in an effort to undermine that constituent’s letter, the same day, The Monroe News hacked out a mess of a front-page story, uncritically echoing messages from Walberg’s Communications Director, without informing about what Walberg actually did on the trip to Ukraine, nor addressing any of the concerns from the constituent’s Letter. The one new piece of information to me from the Monroe News article was,“Walberg headed a delegation of U.S. diplomats” in Ukraine. It particularly struck me because there was nothing in the Ethics Filing about Walberg heading any such delegation. The article didn’t mention the size, or name any members of that delegation, or whether it was coordinated with any official US Agencies like the State Department. I marked up that front page with my criticisms that day, and highlighted that “delegation” part with particular interest. [Exhibit below]
Front page story seemed only to undercut a constituent’s letter from same day
As laid out in my earlier report, Walberg’s, “delegation of U.S. diplomats”, consisted of: Michele Bachmann, James Garlow, Rosemary Schindler Garlow, and Marc Nuttle. Now I further know that “delegation” took Walberg’s place in some of the activities from the sponsor’s agenda. They did that while Walberg went off on his own to do other activities, such as the prayer breakfast in Zhytomyr, which was not mentioned at all in the sponsor’s agenda.
Tim Walberg’s lies to the House Ethics Committee is a serious offense. There is a citation to the US Criminal Code, that willful and knowing misrepresentations on the Ethics form would be subject to criminal prosecution. It is certainly applicable in Walberg’s case.
Walberg, Gohmert, & DeVos: Theocratic Shadow Diplomacy in Ukraine
Ukrainian news articles referenced:
· From November 20, 2018: https://www.rbc.ua/ukr/news/vooruzhennyy-neytralitet-kakie-plany-aleksandra-1542641338.html
· From January 23, 2019: https://t1.ua/news/21627-turchynov-hotovyy-do-svoho-tomos-turu.html
Former Chair of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (2014-2019), Oleksandr Turchynov wants Ukraine to be a conservative Christian state. He has been trying to gather support in that “project” from private and public interests in Ukraine, as well as internationally. In the United States, Turchynov has gotten support in his project from Tim Walberg, Louis Gohmert, and Betsy DeVos [See articles linked above].
When Zelensky won the Presidential election, he appointed a replacement for Turchynov at the NSDC. Zelensky is Jewish and politically secular, which is probably why he chose to not participate in the Prayer Breakfast activities or meet with Walberg. When the trip sponsor drafted the agenda, they likely expected that Poroshenko would win re-election.
Oleksandr Turchynov and Pavel Unguryan are very much leading partners in the conservative Christian politicization effort in Ukraine, and trying to build a coalition with like-minded politicians around the world.
In Ukraine, Turchynov was criticized and accused of misappropriating National Security funds and resources for his private religious projects. Turchynov didn’t really deny that. He seemed to embrace and bask in any controversy around his public religiosity. When Russian Propogandists pegged him with the nickname, “Bloody Pastor”, for said religiosity, and his fondness for posing next to missiles and large military weaponry, Turchynov embraced that nickname too, and didn’t consider it an insult.
Turchynov & Unguryan met in Walberg’s DC office this year & attended US Prayer Breakfast
This year, Pavel Unguryan and Oleksandr Turchynov attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC. The two of them met with assorted Congress members in their offices. The photos on Turchynov’s website, show that in addition to meeting with Tim Walberg, they met in the offices of Robert Aderholt (AL-04), and Bill Huizenga (MI-02).
Among the many things wrong with what Walberg is doing: It’s shadow diplomacy. It’s not the official position of The United States to establish a coalition of Conservative Christian countries around the world, or to build a Conservative Christian political party in Ukraine. It is also wildly outside of the scope of Betsy DeVos’s duty as US Secretary of Education.
Walberg’s duty is to serve the 700,000 people in our Michigan District. Secret theocratic diplomacy projects don’t help us here. Lying on Ethics forms doesn’t help anyone. Walberg insults us by secretly delegating tasks to Michele Bachmann and Jim Garlow, while referring to them as “CODELs” and “Diplomats”, without any of the actual responsibility or accountability of such jobs. Walberg knows he’s not serving our District. That is evident by his choice to never post anything about his trips to Ukraine or about his meetings with Turchynov & Unguryan, and to deflect our questions about it in coffee hours. That is most explicitly evident by what Walberg told the Ukrainian crowd about where the concerns of constituents fall in his set of priorities [exhibit below].
Steven Meyer – Monroe, MI – June 28, 2020
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