Watchdog to National Endowment for Democracy: Drop Stefanik or Risk Guilt by Association
POLITICO: “The congresswoman’s position on the National Endowment for Democracy’s board has rankled fellow Republicans, foreign policy scholars and some former NED board members, who say her statements, along with her support for GOP-authored election laws, are at odds with the organization’s mission”
Accountable.US: “Elise Stefanik serving as a board member for the National Endowment for Democracy is like a fox guarding the hen house: while the group’s motivation is to protect democracy, Stefanik has actively worked to destroy it”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a nationally renowned non-partisan organization known for the promotion of democracy, is under fire for continuing to allow Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who voted against the certification of President Biden’s victory, to serve on the organization’s board, POLITICO reports.
“Elise Stefanik serving as a board member for the National Endowment for Democracy is like a fox guarding the hen house: while the group’s mission is to protect democracy, Stefanik has actively worked to destroy it. NED ignoring its own employees and keeping Stefanik on the board doesn’t do anything in the name of so-called bipartisanship — it only further validates Stefanik’s dangerous behavior and goes against everything the group stands for. Any groups tied to Stefanik should evaluate whether it’s worth potentially being complicit in her fight against democracy,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US.
Members of NED’s staff issued a formal complaint about Stefanik’s continued status as a member of the board following the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Stefanik received no disciplinary action from the organization, and she remains an active board member even after her continued perpetuation of the Big Lie and supporting voter suppression bills in state legislatures across the country.
KEY POINTS FROM POLITICO’S REPORTING:
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, who questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election and voted against certification of Joe Biden’s win, currently serves as a board member for a revered U.S. organization dedicated to the promotion of democracy.
The congresswoman’s position on the National Endowment for Democracy’s board has rankled fellow Republicans, foreign policy scholars and some former NED board members, who say her statements, along with her support for GOP-authored election laws, are at odds with the organization’s mission.
“How is it consistent for someone like her to be on the board of NED given its mission for promoting democracy all over the world and in America with the view that she and many Republicans have for changing our election processes to make it harder for people to participate in our democracy?” said former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), a former NED board member.
“It’s kind of like the Catholic Church appointing a self-described atheist as a cardinal,” said Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Elise Stefanik is part of the threat to American democracy. It’s a travesty that she’s on the board of an institution whose goal is to promote democracy.”
Stefanik’s remarks also have caused internal tensions at the congressionally funded, non-partisan organization. After the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, some staffers at NED circulated a letter internally raising concerns about her position on the board, according to four people familiar with the matter.
“There was a lot of staff unhappiness,” said one of the people.
A NED spokesperson confirmed that the group’s president, Carl Gershman, received the letter and informed the board of directors of its contents. When the board met on January 8, members discussed both the insurrection and Stefanik’s position on the board for roughly half an hour. Stefanik did not attend the meeting and no formal vote or action was taken on her membership, according to a person familiar with the meeting. But some board members bristled at staff trying to interfere with the makeup of the board.
Ultimately, officials at NED have not budged. Though the group denounced the violence at the nation’s Capitol, it has held firm to the belief in the need for bipartisan representation in its ranks.
But within a year of joining NED, the congresswoman’s reputation changed. She played a prominent role defending then-President Donald Trump during his first impeachment, even earning a shout-out at the White House after his Senate acquittal. After the 2020 elections, she questioned whether the presidential results in Georgia — a state Joe Biden narrowly won — were fraudulent, saying that “140,000 votes came from underage, deceased, and otherwise unauthorized voters” in Fulton County. No such fraud took place though Stefanik has not backed off her initial accusation.
“President-Elect Biden was certified, but that debate was important for the American people to hear,” she said.
In the weeks and months since, Stefanik has voted against the creation of a commission to look into what happened on Jan. 6. She also told Steve Bannon’s radio show in May that she “fully” backed the widely-criticized Arizona election “audit” into that state’s presidential vote.
Her alliance with Trump helped her ascend politically. When the Republican Party moved to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as House Republican Conference Chair, its members turned to Stefanik as a replacement. When Stefanik got the job, she thanked Trump for his support.
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