The corruption of the Sudan Relief Fund has been exposed, and by American sources. For years a propaganda campaign has targeted resource-rich Sudan and ignited the conflict in Darfur. Dozens of ‘aid’ organizations had worked tirelessly with suspicious funding to taint the image of the Islamic Sudanese government, to support the rebellion and to collect intelligence information.
According to the website of the Sudan Relief Fund, ‘In 1998 we established the Sudan Relief Fund for the purpose of bringing food, clothing, shelter, medical attention and the Gospel of Christ to the people of South Sudan.’ The organization, along with many others did not limit themselves to providing aid, at least not in a neutral, impartial manner. But that’s no secret.
In an interesting article published by Blue Virginia on October 12 2017, titled ‘Rep. Barbara Comstock Profiting from Trump-Style Charity’, this is laid out. Barbara Jean Comstock is an American politician and a Republican member of the U.S. Congress for Virginia’s 10th District.
According to the Blue Virginia article, Neil Corkery, President of the Sudan Relief Fund, and his daughter gave thousands of dollars last year to Barbara Comstock’s campaign. The writer questions why these funds were not used for humanitarian purposes in Sudan.
Allegations of corruption and misuse of funds intended for humanitarian purpose are sad and not new.
The article says that the ‘Sudan Relief Fund’ has been overpaying the President of the Fund so he can donate money to extreme right-wing candidates like Barbara Comstock.
‘’Sudan Relief Fund has paid its President, Neil Corkery almost $1.1 million since 2011, yet the Foundation claims to have no office in America. Corkery was paid $265,500 in 2014 and $257,500 in 2015, for allegedly working just 30 hours a week.’’
IRS 990 tax returns show that Corkery’s wife, Ann, sits on the board along with Dan Casey, another Republican operative, and apparently helps determine Neil’s salary.
Opensecrets.org found that in 2012 Corkery “drew paychecks from at least four other” charities involved in Catholic and anti-gay activities and claimed to work 105 hours per week.
Federal Election Commission records show that Corkery has made at least 23 similar donations totaling $37,000 to other right-wing and anti-gay politicians, including Rick Santorum, Orrin Hatch and Ed Gillespie.
Dark Money Fundraising
Corkery and his wife are also deeply involved in right-wing “dark money” fundraising, according to Blue Virginia. The Sudan Relief Fund actually shares a Washington DC address with the Wellspring Committee, “a politically active dark money group” that poured $750,000 into an extreme right-wing PAC called Common Sense Virginia.
Sudan Relief Fund and Wellspring Committee also share the same accounting firm in Silver Spring, Maryland: Conlon and Associates LLC. As of June 12, 2017, Conlon and Associates was listed as “Not in Good Standing” by the State of Maryland, most likely because of a back tax issue.
In 2011, Neil Corkery lived in Manassas, Virginia and made $135,000 from the Fund for working 40 hours a week. He ousted key Fund directors in a bitter court battle. By 2014 he was making $265,000 for working 30 hours a week and living in a multi-million-dollar house about a six-minute drive from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
The writer of the article says that perhaps someone should investigate. It says that the Sudan Relief Fund solicits money in many states, so any good Attorney General should be able to find jurisdiction.
Aid Fuels Conflict
A study by economists at Harvard and Yale said, “US food aid increases the incidence and duration of civil conflicts” by financing combatants such as the Taliban and al-Shabab. A 10 per cent increase in food aid delivered to a country will, on average, increase the incidence of conflict by 4 per cent. Food aid also increases the duration of civil conflicts.
Because humanitarian aid is often transported over long distances through territories barely controlled by weak governments, as much as 80 per cent can be stolen en route, say the study’s authors, Nathan Nunn and Nancy Qian in the American Economic Review. Even when it does reach its intended recipients, armed groups can easily confiscate it.
Most often, rebel groups will set up road blocks and “tax” the aid agencies wishing to deliver the aid. In effect, the aid agencies directly support rebel groups by feeding them or providing them with goods that can be traded for arms or other services.
Food aid isn’t the only asset worth stealing: according to Médecins Sans Frontières, which was operating in Chad and Darfur in 2008, convoy vehicles and communications equipment are also strategic assets that have been hijacked to increase rebels’ capacity to wage war.
For the conflict in Darfur, its finally died down, largely due to Sudanese the governments efforts at reconciliation and due to weeding out the corrupt aid agencies.