GOP rep backs probe into US group, Israeli election

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) questioned Tuesday whether a nonprofit that receives federal grant money is helping lobby to unseat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.



"I don't know at least if overtly before the U.S. government has ever funded an organization that funded a subsidiary whose sole purpose was to overthrow an elected government of an ally, of a friend," Kinzinger said on Fox News's "Fox and Friends."

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"Benjamin Netanyahu is not a major opponent of the United States. He's a friend of the United States."

The allegations surround OneVoice, a group that's received grant funding from the State Department. Haaretz newspaper in Israel reported that OneVoice is working with Victory 2015, a group that is campaigning against Netanyahu's reelection. A Senate subcommittee is reportedly investigating that link.

The Israeli election is underway Tuesday, and polls show a tight race between Netanyahu and his main opponent in the Labor Party.

Republicans have criticized Democrats for not supporting Netanyahu since the fallout over the prime minister's recent speech to Congress. Democrats panned that speech as politically motivated ahead of Netanyahu's reelection. 

And because Jeremy Bird, an Obama campaign alumnus, works for Victory 2015, some lawmakers have intimated that there's a connection between the administration and efforts to defeat Netanyahu.

"OneVoice is eager to cooperate with any inquiry, and after a fair examination, we are confident no wrong doing will be found," spokesman Payton Knopf said in a statement shared with The Hill on Saturday. Knopf also referred to the allegations as a “baseless distraction.”

Records show that OneVoice received a $350,000 grant last year.

But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said the grant's funds ran out before the Israeli call for elections and that the funding was to only be used for specific purposes.

"The U.S. Embassy approved OneVoice Israel’s implementation plan for the grant and monitored its performance," she told reporters in January. "We approve exactly what the money is used for."

But Kinzinger expressed concern even if the State Department grant didn’t go directly toward campaign activity.

"Money is fungible. So money was given to this group, OneVoice, and they gave money to the subsidiary Victory '15, whose sole purpose stated is to overthrow or dis-elect the current government," Kinzinger said.

"This is a big, huge deal and warrants some deep investigation."

This story was updated at 5:33 p.m.