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Ukrainian-born GOP lawmaker rankles colleagues with her aggressive criticism of Kyiv

By Nate Hochman

August 07, 2022: Information Clearing House -- Yesterday, Politico reported that House Republican leadership was “coming to regret” giving Representative Victoria Spartz, a Ukrainian-born freshman from Indiana’s 5th congressional district, “a coveted platform to speak out against Russia’s war.” Spartz was initially all-in for the war, but in recent months, she has begun to raise concerns about corruption in the Ukrainian government and push for more oversight of U.S. aid. In response, Politico reports, Spartz’s senior counterparts have grown worried that her criticisms “could portend future cracks in U.S. support for Ukraine,” and “may damage cohesion among the Western coalition in defense of Kyiv”:

Inside the House GOP Conference, there’s a widespread fear that her posture is damaging U.S.-Ukraine relations at the worst possible time — and that she’s being played by forces that aim to weaken the Western alliance.

There’s no actual evidence offered for who those “forces” are, or how Sparks’ concerns about corruption and push for more aid oversight — the same position, notably, as that of the Heritage Foundation — are evidence that she’s being “played.” (In fact, Politico implicitly cedes that those concerns have a basis in reality, but waves them away as harmful to discuss: “Western nations’ longstanding concerns about corruption in Ukraine, an element of former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, have also been shelved in the interest of fostering both domestic and international unity against Russia’s invasion”). Instead, unnamed House Republicans offer anonymous quotes trashing their freshman colleague for breaking with the party line:

“Her naiveness is hurting our own people,” said a GOP lawmaker who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, granted anonymity to speak candidly about a colleague. “It is not helpful to what we’re trying to do and I’m not sure her facts are accurate … We have vetted these guys.” The Republican warned that Spartz’s comments could “hurt” the war effort.

Asked for comment on Spartz’s remarks, one senior House Republican who was granted anonymity for the same reason offered a blunt reply: “What the fuck.” 

A third House Republican granted anonymity to speak candidly about Spartz said she has a reputation for elbowing her way into briefings and meetings for committees she doesn’t belong to, like the Foreign Affairs panel, where multiple members have tried to address her comments behind closed doors.

These top Republicans are too cowardly to make such arguments in public — as Politico notes, “none of them want to publicly rebuke a colleague over Ukraine . . . as the Russian attack itself becomes more politically thorny within the GOP.” But they’re willing to actively undermine her in the mainstream media, so long as it’s on the condition of anonymity. And the attacks themselves are completely devoid of content: There’s no explanation for why Spartz’s concerns are wrong, save for vague aspersions about being “not sure her facts are accurate.” Instead, the basis of the broadside is that Spartz — by asking what, precisely, the billions of American taxpayer dollars are actually funding in Ukraine — is not being “helpful to what we’re trying to do.” In other words: “Shut up,” they explained.

Truth is the first casualty of war. If Spartz is wrong, her colleagues should explain why — and preferably not via anonymous quotes used for smear pieces in the pages of the mainstream media. What, exactly, is so unreasonable about the congresswoman’s position? She’s obviously not operating from a place of ignorance — she has traveled to Ukraine six times since the outset of the war and, unlike her unnamed Republican critics, actually lived there for the first 22 years of her life. At the very least, the rationale she gave in her statement to Politico merits serious engagement: “Growing up in Ukraine and visiting six times since the war started, I have a comprehensive understanding of the situation on the ground. The stakes are too high to be reactive without deliberation — as intended for our institution.”

Why is she wrong? The anonymous House Republicans don’t appear to have a real answer. If they did, maybe they’d actually have the courage to say so publicly.


Views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.  in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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