Senator wants inspector general with Dayton background to oversee Ukraine aid

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

A senator is pledging to reintroduce a bill that would have the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction — an office currently held by John Sopko, whose career began in Dayton — oversee U.S. aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia.

The proposal from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. may soon be introduced anew after it was revealed earlier this month that the Pentagon miscalculated Ukraine aid by $3 billion. News outlet Politico reported that lawmakers were “furious” at the revelation.

“A little over a year ago, I proposed an amendment to the massive $40 billion Ukraine spending package,” Rand said in a recent statement to the Dayton Daily News. “My amendment would have entrusted a proven and effective inspector general to oversee and track how funds are spent in Ukraine.

“My amendment was rejected and, today, over $113 billion in taxpayer dollars has been sent to Ukraine,” Paul added. “Predictably, we now find ourselves in a situation where the Pentagon’s miscalculation of aid calls into question the reliability of its accounting.”

Paul said he will soon reintroduce his proposal for an independent inspector general for Ukraine aid “to provide taxpayers with an accurate accounting of how their money is spent, as well as to detect and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.”

The Department of Defense announced its latest package of assistance for Ukraine Wednesday, valued at $300 million, marking the 39th drawdown of DOD equipment for Ukraine since August 2021.

Politico, which first reported Paul’s plans, said the proposal failed when he introduced it a year ago.

Sometimes called “SIGAR” (short for “special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction”), Sopko has long provided oversight on U.S. aid to Afghanistan.

The former Montgomery County assistant prosecuting attorney was sworn in as SIGAR in July 2012, having been appointed to the post by President Obama.

Though U.S. military forces left Afghanistan in August 2021, the United States still spent nearly $800 million there in the following year, Sopko told the Dayton Daily News in an interview last summer.

“I think it’s close to $800 million that we’ve spent in Afghanistan since the collapse of the government last August,” Sopko said at the time. “Because we still have an interest there, and there are still a lot of Afghans our government wants to help.”

In his interview, Sopko fondly recalled his time in Dayton.

He grew up in Cincinnati and Cleveland and started in legal career in Dayton, working for then-Montgomery County prosecutor Lee C. Falke.

He graduated from Case Western Reserve Law School in 1977 on a weekend and started work in Dayton on Monday, he told this news outlet last year.

By Tuesday, he was in juvenile court trying cases before magistrates. He hadn’t even taken the bar exam, he said.

Sopko remembered living on Radio Road in East Dayton, walking to East Third Street and taking a trolley bus downtown to the prosecutor’s office each morning.

“I loved Dayton, Ohio. I loved the people down there,” he said.

“They gave me a break,” Sopko added, saying he had applied to many prosecutors’ offices across the country as a soon-to-be law school graduate, at a time when prosecutors hired staff often based on political affiliation and ties.

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