International Foundation for Electoral Systems
Last updated: January 11, 1989
Published by the International Relations Center / Interhemispheric Resource Center.
International Foundation for Electoral Systems
Background: The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), founded in 1989,"is dedicated exclusively to supporting and improving the process and management of free elections in emerging democracies throughout the world."(1)
The IFES motto is: "The art of building a democracy should be based on the science of designing free and fair elections."(1)
Funding: IFES received $120,000 from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in June of 1989 to provide assistance to the Nicaraguan political opposition in areas of voter registration and participation in the 1990 elections. In October, IFES received an additional $220,000 from NED to expand on this work. (19,20) According to a report by Hemisphere Initiatives, Via Civica, a newly-formed civic organization, is the prime beneficiary of the NED funds. (26)
Activities: IFES offers its election expertise to "emerging democracies" in 10 areas: establishing an electoral commission and body of laws; a voter registry; voting station procedures; poll workers; transportation; voting materials; security; counting, reporting and certification of votes; system management; and voter education and motivation. (1) Further, according to its brochure the IFES "can provide election officials anywhere in the world with information about any technical aspects of electoral systems, the people expert in these systems and the materials vital to the setting up and management of a free and fair election."(1)
It appears that the bulk of IFES funding comes from NED. (26) NED is a quasi-governmental organization conceived by the Reagan administration and funded by Congress to "promote democracy" overseas. (27) NED’s funding comes from the U.S. government, primarily from the U.S. Information Agency and the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID). (2)
The current focus of IFES work is in Nicaragua with Via Civica. Via Civica, a grassroots electoral organization working on voter education and registration. It receives additional NED funding through the Costa Rican political/electoral training firm Counseling Center for Democracy (CAD). CAD receives NED funding for its work with Via Civica through the America’s Development Foundation, another conservative "democracy building" organization. (27) According to Henry Quintero, who was hired by IFES specifically for the Nicaraguan project, IFES assists in Via Civica’s electoral training and education work and provides them with materials such as flyers, bumper stickers, and the like. (28) Via Civica, through the CAD project SISTEMAS, provides a wide range of educational and election work, including election analyses and demographics, opinion polls, surveys, electoral training workshops, an election "hot line," and poll watching. (6) Via Civica claims to be nonpartisan but is closely associated with the Nicaraguan National Opposition Union (UNO), the U.S. backed coalition opposing the Sandinista government. (2)
In a recent interview, Henry Quintero said that in addition to Nicaragua, IFES has election projects in Hungary, Namibia, India, USSR, and Paraguay. (28)
Government Connections: F. Clifton White worked with CIA director William Casey on the Reagan administration’s pro-contra propaganda network. (2) According to a November 1986 memo from Walter Raymond to National Security Adviser John Poindexter, White was to be in charge of the formation of a group modeled after the bipartisan cold war champion, Committee on the Present Danger, but focusing on Central America. (2) White and Richard Scammon of IFES lunched with the Soviet Central Election Commission to the U.S. during their November 1989 visit. (10)
James Cannon was an assistant to President Gerald Ford. (2)
Robert C. Walker was an assistant to Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California. (2)
Richard Scammon was a member of the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America (the Kissinger Commission) set up in 1984 by the Reagan administration to develop a U.S. strategy for the area. (24) Scammon was a member of the U.S. delegations that observed the elections in Vietnam and El Salvador. (24)
Richard Soudriett was the director of the Peace Corps in Panama. (2) He was a member of the U.S. greeting committee for the Soviet Central Election Commission to the U.S. in November 1989. All of the other members of the committee were from the Federal Election Commission. (10)
Richard Stone was a state senator in Florida until he lost his seat in 1980. (2) He went on to the federal government where he became interim head of the State Department Office of Public
Diplomacy in 1983. After that, he was appointed Special Envoy to Central America by the Reagan administration. His assignment was to negotiate the FDR-FMLN’s participation in the Salvadoran elections. (13,24) While serving as Special Envoy, Stone met with CIA agent Felix Rodriguez (alias Max Gomez) and Donald Gregg (longtime CIA officer, national security adviser to Vice President Bush, and now ambasssador to Korea) to discuss counterrevolutionary operations in Central America. (2) Stone reportedly supported Rodriguez’ plans for the development of elite "search and destroy" teams to operate in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. (2)
Henry Quintero served in the Military Intelligence Service of the U.S. Army from 1943 through 1946 and again from 1954 through 1955. In 1955 he went to work for Department of State as an intelligence research specialist, and in 1960 worked for the U.S. Information Agency as an intelligence research specialist. (22,25)
Private Connections: F. Clifton White is a longtime rightwing Republican strategist. In the 1950’s he and William Rusher, publisher of the National Review, helped to turn the Young Republican National Federation, the GOP youth arm, from a moderate to a very conservative group. (18) White played an important role in the preconvention campaign of Barry Goldwater in 1964. (23) White was or is a member of The Conservative Network, a small group founded in 1985 by Reagan administration presidential appointees to bring the administration’s conservative political philosophy into the private sector. (17) White is on the board of the National Republic Institute for International Affairs, the Republican Party’s conduit for NED funding. (2) He is on the board of the Center for Democracy, a conservative group "working to promote and strengthen the democratic process."(2) The Center for Democracy is heavily funded by NED. (28) White is also on the board of the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs. (2)
Charles Manatt is a partner in the Washington law firm of Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Phillips. He is on the board of the Center for Democracy and was the chair of the Democratic National Committee. (2) Manat
t is on the board of NED. (27) Patr icia Hutar is the director of the Office of International Medicine of the American Medical Association. She was co-chair of the Republican National Committee.
Robert C. Walker is vice president for national affairs at the Adolph Coors Company. (2) The Coors family is one of the largest supporters of rightwing causes in the U.S. (9)
James Cannon is the executive director of American Agenda. (2)
Randal Teague is a partner in the law firm of Borys, Sater, Seymour & Pease. He was the executive director of Young Americans for Freedom, a youth organization of the rightwing John Birch Society. (2,5) Young Americans for Freedom is a member of the RAMBO (Restore a More Benevolent Order) Coalition. (4)
Richard Scammon is a senior elections consultant to NBC news and a visiting fellow at the rightwing think tank, the American Enterprise Institute. (2)
Henry Quintero worked at Delphi International Group where he administered the La Prensa grants received from NED. (2,14) La Prensa is the spearhead of the anti-Sandinista media in Nicaragua. (15) Delphi also received grants from NED for Nicaraguan broadcast media, training and "civic education" and other projects to build opposition to the Sandinistas. (14) Quintero supervised NED’s IFES grants to Via Civica. Via Civica, a Nicaraguan civic education group, claims to be "non-partisan" but is closely associated with the Nicaraguan National Opposition Union (UNO), the U.S. -backed coalition in the 1990 elections. (2,6) Quintero also worked on Nicaraguan projects at the Institute of North-South Issues, a primary money channel in Oliver North’s Iran-Contra supply network. (15)
Richard Stone is a vice chair at Capital Bank where NED does its banking. There was some comment on NED’s selection of Capital because it was a relatively new, small bank which had been implicated in a drug money-laundering scheme in 1982. (11,12) The initial NED deposit of $18 million added an estimated 70 percent to Capital Bank’s assets. (12) IFES also banks at Capital Bank. (2) Stone is a principal of the Cuban American National Foundation, an anti-Castro lobbying group spearheaded by former members of the Bay of Pigs invasion and directed by Jorge Mas Canosa. (7,8) Stone was a registered lobbyist for the Guatemalan dictatorship in the early 1980s. (2) He was on the board of the Center for International Relations, now known as the Fund For American Studies. (16) Stone is on the strategy board of the U.S. Global Strategy Council, a rightwing group advocating a strong defense and dedicated to the "improvement of strategic planning and decision-making by the Executive Branch and Congress of the United States."(21)
Misc:Comments: A letter of June 1984 addressed to Sen. Ernest Hollings appealing for continued funding of NED by Congress spoke about concerns expressed in Congress "with respect to (NED’s) electoral activities abroad…" The letter goes on to state: "Specifically, in response to Congressional concerns, the Board of Directors of the Endowment, at their meeting on June 8, adopted a resolution prohibiting the use of funds–either by NED or by any of its grantees–to finance the campaigns of candidates for public office."(3)
However, through IFES and other PVOs, NED sends millions of dollars of support to anticommunist electoral groups around the globe. (27) In a report of October 1989, Hemisphere Initiatives comments on this as it is unfolding in Nicaragua: "Debates about funding often involve an attempt to distinguish between funds given to political parties or candidates and those to private Nicaraguan organizations such as business groups, trade unions and women’s groups closely identified with, if not controlled by, the internal opposition. But this distinction is based more on theory than reality. These private organizations use foreign funds for the same overall political purpose as opposition parties and candidates: to build support for defeating the Sandinistas."(26)
IFES is a part of the NED network of private organizations that allows the U.S. government to continue to meddle in political arenas in other countries. Over the past five years (1984-1989), NED grants to groups supporting the Nicaraguan opposition have totalled over $5 million. (26) NED also received most of an additional $9 million congressional allocation to assist the U.S. -backed Nicaraguan opposition in the 1990 elections. (2)
U.S. Address: 1620 I Street, NW, #611, Washington, DC 20006
Principals: Members of the 1989 board of directors are: F. Clifton White, chairman; Patricia Hutar, sec; Richard B. Stone, tres; James M. Cannon; Charles T. Manatt; Richard M. Scammon; Robert C. Walker; and Randal C. Teague, counsel. (1) Richard Soudriett is a director at IFES and Henry Quintero is an employee at the foundation. (2)
Sources:1. International Foundation for Electoral Systems,"Democracies Don’t Grow on Trees… ," brochure, 1989.
2. Holly Sklar,"Washington Wants To Buy Nicaragua’s Elections Again," Zeta Magazine, Dec 1989.
3. Letter to Sen. Ernest Hollings from John Richardson, June 11, 1984.
4. Sara Diamond,"Shepherding," Covert Action Information Bulletin, Spring 1987.
5. Jon Lee Anderson and Scott Anderson, Inside the League: The Shocking Expose of How Terrorists, Nazis, and Latin American Death Squads Have Infiltrated The World Anti-Communist League (New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Co, 1986).
6. National Republican Institute for International Affairs,"Grantee Record, Grant No 89-36. 1," July 31, 1989.
7. Cuban American National Foundation, brochure, 1986.
8. John Spicer Nichols,"The Power of the Anti-Fidel Lobby," The Nation, Oct 24, 1988.
9. John Saloma III, Ominous Politics (New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 1984).
10. Federal Election Commission, tentative itinerary for the Soviet Central Election Commission to the U.S. , Nov 2-11, 1989.
11. Jefferson Morley,"Contradictions of Cocaine Capitalism," The Nation, Oct 2, 1989.
12. Congressional memo, Rep. Dan Mica’s office, undated, received July 1989.
13. Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair, Appendix B, Vol. 22, Walter Raymond Deposition, 1988.
14. Letter from Marc F. Plattner of NED, April 23, 1986.
15. John Spicer Nichols,"La Prensa: the CIA Connection," Columbia Journalism Review, July/Aug 1988.
16. Letter from Lee Edwards, Center for International Relations, Oct 22, 1985.
17."A personal invitation to the Conservative Network," an advertisement, received June 1989.
18. Alan Crawford, Thunder on the Right (New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 1980).
19."NED Nicaraguan Proposals," approved in June 1989.
20. NED,"Programs of the Endowment and Its Institute in Nicaragua," received Oct 6, 1989.
21. U.S. Global Strategy Council, brochure, 1989/1990.
22. Julius Mader, Who’s Who in CIA (Berlin, Germany: Julius Mader, 1968).
23. Kirkpatrick Sale, Power Shift: The Rise of the Southern Rim and Its Challenge to the Eastern Establishment (New York, NY: Random House, 1975).
24. Raymond Bonner, Weakness and Deceit: U.S. Policy and El Salvador (New York, NY: Times Books, 1984).
25. Biographic Register, 1974.
26. Hemisphere Initiatives,"Nicaraguan Election Update #2: Foreign Funding of the Internal Opposition," Oct 16, 1989.
27. National Endowment for Democracy, Annual Report, 1988.
28. Interview with Henry Quintero, International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Nov 6, 1989.