FL: Bill Nelson put on defensive over foreign aid to Libya, Pakistan and Egypt

By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog

ST. PETERSBURG – As American embassies are overrun by protesters and ambassadors are put in harm’s way across the Middle EastDemocratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida wants to continue sending foreign aid to nations who aren’t friendly to the United States.

That’s the pitch of a new advertisement sent out by RANDPAC, the political action committee tied to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky.

“Bill Nelson works with Barack Obamato send billions of our taxpayer dollars to countries where radicals storm our embassies, burn our flags and kill our diplomats,” says a voice in the ad.

The video mashes together images from turbulent scenes in the Middle East with Nelson speaking on the floor of the Senate. The speaker is attacking Nelson for voting to send more foreign aid to LibyaPakistan and Egypt, putting him on the defensive in his heated race with Republican U.S. Rep. Connie Mack.

The video was inspired by a recent bill submitted in the Senate by Paul, aiming to cut off American aid to the countries that have been most imbalanced in the wake of the Arab Spring since 2011.

In 2012, Pakistan was slated to receive more $2.1 billion, Egypt $1.5 billion and Libya only $2.5 million, according to the U.S. State Department.

The bill was voted down 10-81 and has provided Paul an ample opportunity to support his fellow Republican colleagues in tight Senate battles across the country including Mack, whom Paul endorsed before the GOP primary last spring.

Neither Nelson’s campaign office nor Senate office returned calls or emails to Florida Watchdog.

“Connie Mack has stripped funding from those not supportive of the US and believes foreign aid should be used to help our friends and not the enemies of freedom,” Mack deputy campaign manager David James wrote Florida Watchdog in an email.

Through his role as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, James noted that Mack has been successful in passing motions to cut off aid to the governments of ArgentinaBoliviaEcuador,Venezuela and Nicaragua.

He also has never shied from criticizing Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez and Bolivian President Evo Morales, accusing them of “placing democracy under siege in Latin America” in statements before the subcommittee in 2011.

In 2009, Mack led an aggressive campaign to maintain nearly $43 million in foreign aid to the nation of Honduras, which underwent a military coup d’état that resulted in the ouster of its president, Manuel Zelaya.

“To cut the aid (to Honduras), be it humanitarian, military or what have you, is the wrong thing to do. I would have fought hard to make sure that aid to Honduras was not cut,” Mack declared on the floor of the House in July 2009.

This was in spite of the State Department’s acknowledgement that the coup was illegal and the small nation should have all aid removed, according to a leaked cable obtained by the whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks.

On the endorsement end, however, Mack also scooped up favor with Paul’s father, Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, through his Liberty PACpraising Mack for his “distinguished career in public service fighting for Florida and the ideals of freedom, security and prosperity.”

The latest Rasmussen poll shows Nelson ahead with 52 percent support over Mack’s 41 percent. Just over 6 percent of those polled remain undecided and less than 1 percent favor independent candidates Chris Borgia, of Davie, and Bill Gaylor, of Melbourne, who were not specifically mentioned in the poll.

The survey was conducted on Oct. 4 with 500 likely Florida voters and has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

The Real Clear Politics average of all polls since late September has Nelson ahead by more than 5 points, demonstrating a steady stream of support for the incumbent senator.

Yaël Ossowski is Florida Bureau Chief for Watchdog.org.


Read more: Florida Watchdog

Leave a Reply