A U.S. House member from Utah raised expressed shock Thursday over what he called "lobbying money" paid to the government of Afghanistan in exchange for laws or programs the U.S. government wants but the Afghan government wouldn't otherwise enact.
Last year, the U.S. Agency for International Development paid $15 million out of its "incentive fund" in return for the Afghan Parliament passing a law on violence against women, which was "unpalatable" to parliament without the incentive, a USAID witness told the House Oversight subcommittee.
Donald "Larry" Sampler, assistant to the administrator of the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs for USAID, said he didn't think "lobbying money" or "slush fund" were accurate ways to describe the payment. Instead, he said, the funds help get policies and programs passed that are a higher priority to the U.S. than to Afghanistan. The incentive fund was budgeted at $75 million in 2013, and increased to $100 million this year.