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Center for Democracy

Center for Democracy

Acronym/Code: CFD

Updated: 12/90

Categories:Politics

Background: The Center for Democracy is a non-partisan organization established in 1984 to "promote the democratic process in the United States and abroad." The concept for the group apparently came from the American Political Foundation (APF), a group founded in the late-1970s to develop a bipartisan approach to assist emerging democracies around the globe. The APF–composed of business, labor, government, and academic leaders–organized "The Democracy Program" which proposed government funding of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its four associated institutes. The Democracy Program evolved into the Center for Democracy, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization operating under the umbrella of Boston University. The Center has offices in Boston, Washington, DC, Guatemala City, and Strasbourg, France. (4,5)

The Center’s promotional materials claim that it has achieved "the vision of an independent, bipartisan organization, funded largely by the private sector, which links Democratic and Republican leaders in common program efforts… ." However, the Center’s board of directors is dominated by political heavyweights from influential legal and public relations firms and from the board of the National Endowment for Democracy, a government-funded, quasi-private "democracy-building" institution, originally headed by Allen Weinstein. Known funding sources are primarily governmental. (19)

Funding: The Center claims that its funding comes from private sector members of its board of directors, individual donations, foundations and corporations, and the Agency for International Development (AID). (4) Specific financial information on the Center is not available, but it is believed that a major portion of the Center’s funding comes from AID. In 1988 the Center received $465,000 to support the "institutional and logistical development of the National Congress of Guatemala." This AIDfunded project agreement with the Center ran through July 1990 and involved total funding from AID of $1,765,000. The AID agreement included $236,174 in matching funds from the Center, bringing the total for the 3-year project in Guatemala to more than $2 million. (6,9) The Center also received $250,000 from AID for election monitoring activities during the 1990 Nicaraguan elections. (7) In 1989 the Center also received $75,000 from the NED for election monitoring and observation of the Nicaraguan elections. (8)

Activities: Within the United States, the Center attempts to act as a "bridge" between the Democratic and Republican parties, with top leaders of both parties serving on the Center’s board. The Center organized a bipartisan Commission on National Political Conventions to examine presidential nominating procedures and recommend possible improvements. It has organized a number of bipartisan debates and conferences to discuss issues of national significance. The Center was also very active in organizing major national events to celebrate the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. The Center is a high profile group that attracts numerous "big name" advocates of democracy to its meetings including Elie Wiesel, President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, Ambassador Max Kampelman, President Corazon Aquino of the Philippines, President Ronald Reagan, and United Nations Secretary General Perez de Cuellar. (4)

The Center maintains what it terms a "liaison presence" in Strasbourg, France to assist with the emerging processes of democratization occurring in Eastern Europe. (4) The Center has also been active in the electoral process in Namibia, primarily trying to facilitate communication between SWAPO and other political parties. (4)

The Center’s main activities have focused on Central America. Prior to receiving its major contract for democracy development in Guatemala, the Center administered an AID-funded legislative support program that involved work with the national legislatures of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This program arranged for travel and information exchange between Central American legislators and those of the United States and Western Europe. (15)

Costa Rica: The Center held a colloquy on "Democracy and Development in Central America" in San Jose, Costa Rica in February of 1989. Participants included representatives from Costa Rica, France, the Council of Europe, and Guatemala. Peter Kelly and Allen Weinstein represented the Center for Democracy. (4) In May 1989 ten presidential candidates or their representatives from Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala met before the San Jose Colloquy under Center auspices. (4)

Guatemala: The Center maintains an office in Guatemala in conjunction with its $2 million AID-funded project to support the institutional and logistical development of the National Congress of Guatemala. The project is co-chaired by Allen Weinstein and the President of the Guatemalan Congress. The project director is Caleb McCarry. (15) Over the course of this 3-year project, the Center’s goal is to train members of the Guatemalan Congress on democratic procedures through seminars and training programs. The program brings procedural, legislative, and academic "experts" to train members of the Guatemalan Congress, and members of the Congress travel to observe the functioning of other western democracies. (15) There is some indication that this project will be repeated in Honduras and El Salvador. (4)

Nicaragua: The Center awarded its annual "Sentinel of Democracy" award to Violeta Chamorro in 1987. (12) The Center was invited by both the Sandinista government and UNO to organize an international observer mission for the 1990 national elections. Funded by NED and AID, the Center opened an office in Managua in September 1989 to monitor election activities, act as a clearinghouse for election information and materials, and promote civic participation in the electoral process. (7) The Center reserved 10 percent of the grant funds for registration of Nicaraguans living abroad (particularly on the Costa Rican and Honduran borders–where there were concentrations of contra supporters). (39) While most of the 3000-plus observers invited to observe the elections sent individuals in for a short period of time around the elections, the Center for Democracy established itself in a far more permanent manner, opening an office in September 1989 and hiring staff. (16,39) The mission was directed by Caleb McCarry and Diane Weinstein was listed on the proposal as the attorney for the project. (39) Among those who participated in the Center’s pre-election observation mission were NED board members William Brock, Frank Fahrenkopf, and Charles Manatt. (39) In December 1989 a Center observer delegation witnessed a demonstration in the town of Masatepe in which one person was killed and more than twenty people were injured. The Center immediately issued a statement placing all of the blame for initiating the violence on the Sandinistas. This assessment, however, was contradicted by other observers, including those from the Organization of American States (OAS). The OAS reported it was impossible to determine how the violence began, but about 200 UNO supporters broke into and ransacked the Sandinista headquarters and the adjacent Agriculture Ministry. UNO supporters also burned two vehicles. While UNO vicepresidential candidate Virgilio Godoy and members of the Center for Democracy delegation–including Allen Weinstein, representatives from the National Democratic Institute, the National Republican Institute, and the rightwing World Freedom Foundation–claimed the slain man was an UNO supporter, his mother stated unequivocably that he was a staunch Sandinista supporter. (10,11,12,17) However, reports in major U.S. media carried the "official" Center for Democracy viewpoint on the incident. (10,11,12) Immediately following the incident at Masatepe, the Center delegation led by Allen Weinstein went to a summit meeting of Central American presidents where they denounced "Sandinista violence" and questioned the Nicaraguan electoral process. (12)

Following this series of events, several representatives from the Center for Democracy were denied entry visas to Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan government denied entry stating that the Center for Democracy was not acting responsibly. (13) The Center continues to be active in Nicaragua. In July 1990 plans were underway for establishment of an independent support institute to help research and write legislation and generally facilitate the establishment of new procedures for governing compatible with the UNO government. (14) The Center continues to maintain a small office in Nicaragua which receives support from the Center’s office in Guatemala. (14,17)

Panama: At the encouragement of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, in 1989 the Center undertook a study mission to Panama to observe election procedures. In April 1989, the Center opened an Electoral Information Center for journalists and election observers. It was promptly closed by the Panamanian military. (4) In May 1989 Allen Weinstein wrote an editorial for the Wall Street Journal calling for a firm U.S. policy that would solicit the support of the American public and U.S. allies for the removal of Noriega by force if necessary. (18)

Philippines: At the request of Senators Lugar and Pell of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Center organized a bipartisan group of election lawyers to oversee the preparations for the February 1986 elections. (15) At President Reagan’s request Center president Allen Weinstein returned to the Philippines to continue to monitor the election procedures to ensure a fair and democratic election. The Center drafted the official report of the U.S. Observer Delegation. (15) The Center went on to work with President Aquino’s government on matters of electoral procedure. (4)

Government Connections: Allen Weinstein: Weinstein received the United Nations Peace Medal in 1986 for his efforts to "promote peace, dialogue, and free elections in several critical parts of the world."(15) He served in 1983 on the U.S. delegation to the UNESCO-sponsored International Program for the Development of Communication and in 1982 was a member of the U.S. delegation to the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies. (22) He was a member of the U.S. observer delegation to the 1986 Philippines elections. His wife, Diane Weinstein, is legal counsel to Vice President Dan Quayle. (19)

Lee Atwater served as President Bush’s campaign chairman in the 1988 election. Before that he served as manager for stalwart conservatives Strom Thurmond and the late Larry McDonald. McDonald went on to become chairman of the John Birch Society. (23)

F. Clifton White worked with CIA director William Casey on the Reagan Administration’s pro-contra propaganda network. According to a November 1986 memo from National Security Council staffer 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. The group was to promote President Reagan’s Central American policies. (19) White lunched with the Soviet Central Election Commission to the U.S. during their November 1989 visit to the United States. (35)

William E. Brock III was U.S. Secretary of Labor under the Reagan administration. (20)

Dante Fascell is a Democratic Representative from Florida. He is chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and former chair of the subcommittee with direct responsibility for NED oversight. Fascell took the lead role in pushing the initial NED authorization through Congress. (20) He has received campaign contributions from the rightwing, pro-contra Cuban American National Foundation. (20)

Private Connections: Allen Weinstein is a professor of history at Boston University and formerly taught at Smith College and Georgetown University. He was a member of the board of directors of the American Political Foundation which received a $300,000 grant from AID for the project that developed the conceptual design for NED as well as the Center for Democracy. Weinstein enlisted the assistance of the George Weigel, head of the World

Without War Council. (19,33) Weinstein’s co-directors at the APF included Charles Manatt, William Brock, and Frank Fahrenkopf of the NED board of directors; Lane Kirkland, president of the AFLCIO and on the board of NED; Eugenia Kemble former executive director of the Free Trade Union Institute–a core grantee of NED; and Peter Kelly. (19) Weinstein is a member of the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace, another quasi-private, governmentfunded organization. (19) He also serves as a dirctor of the Oscar Arias Foundation of North America and is on the board of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority (CDM), an anticommunist, Cold War group first formed in the 1950s. (19) Weinstein was a director of the National Strategy Information Center at the time that thegroup was involved in funding contra leader Arturo Cruz. (19) From 1981 to 1983 Weinstein was executive director of the Washington Quarterly, a publication of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a conservative think tank which was at that time connected to Georgetown University. (20,22) From 1983-1984 he served as acting president of the NED. (20,22)

Lee Atwater was or is national chairman of the Republican Party. During his tenure at the head of the party, Atwater sent UNO a contribution of $25,000 and actively participated in fundraising events for Violeta Chamorro. (21,25) Atwater helped organize fundraising dinners held in support of Lt. Col. Oliver North of Iran-Contra fame. (24) Atwater was implicated in the dirty work in the attempted smear of presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. The story,"leaked" by the LaRouche campaign, claimed that Dukakis had a history of psychiatric treatment. (26) Atwater is a former partner of the firm of Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly. (27)

Peter Kelly and Paul Manafort are partners in the highly political public relations/lobbying firm of Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly. The firm’s revenues from foreign governments and corporations in 1986 was $2. 1 million. (29) Among the clients of this firm have been the government of Kenya; UNITA, (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola),the U.S. -supported, Angolan anticommunist resistance group led by Jonas Savimbi; and the government of Somalia, noted for its abysmal human rights record. In 1988 the Somali government received $42. 5 million in U.S. aid, including $6. 5 in military aid. In 1989, the military aid request jumped to $18. 1 million. (27,28) More recently, the Union for National Action (UNA), a Philippine party connected to vice president Salvador Laurel, signed a $950,000 contract with the firm to represent its interests in the United States. (29) Zaire’s president, Mobutu Sese Seko, signed a $1 million contract with Black, Manafort and company in July of 1989 for the purpose of obtaining more aid from the U.S. (32) Partners Black and Stone were senior campaign managers for President Bush; Manafort ran the Republican National Convention. He was a central figure in the congressional inquiry into fees paid to Republican consultants to win approval of housing subsidies from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For his services, Manafort earned $348,500 in consulting fees from HUD’s Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation program. (30) Manafort admitted that his firm used its political influence with HUD to obtain lucrative benefits for a project in which Manafort had invested. (29) Manafort comes to the firm from a background of conservative politics including the College Republicans and the Young Republicans, co-founders of the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC). (29) Manafort directed the 1980 presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan in the South. (31) Kelly is former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee where he claimed to have raised more than $90 million. (29) The firm boasts that clients pay $10,000 to $12,000 a month for their services–fees that are paid because the partners are known to have access to the administration and Capitol Hill. (29)

John Silber is president of Boston University and recently defeated candidate (1990) for governor of Massachusetts. An ultraright conservative, Silber recently published a book, Straight Shooting. Reviewer Leland Miles wrote that "In the last analysis, Mr. Silber tolerates only views from the right, often insulting those who hold different positions… ."(34)

Dante Fascell was a member of the American Political Foundation. (20) He has been connected with the rightwing think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. (20)

Charles T. Manatt serves on the board of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the Democratic Party’s pass-through for NED funds; he is also on the board of the NED. Manatt serves on the board of the NED-funded International Foundation for Electoral Systems. (20)

F. Clifton White is a longtime rightwing Republican strategist. In the 1950s 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. (36) White played an important role in the pre-convention campaign of Barry Goldwater in 1964. (37) 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. (38) White is on the board of the National Republican Institute for International Affairs, the Republican Party’s channel for NED funds for international political assistance. (19,20) He is chairman of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a NED-funded group which provides technical assistance for elections around the world. He also serves on the board of the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs. (19)

Misc:Comments:U.S. Address: 1155 15th Street, NW, Suite 1010, Washington, DC 20005 and 118 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215.

Principals: Members of the board of directors in 1989 were: Peter G. Kelly, chairman, principal in Updike, Kelly & Spellacy and Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly; Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. , vice chair, partner in Hogan & Hartson; Allen Weinstein, president; James F. Keenan, chair, development committee, chairman of the board of Pace Industries; Susan Davis, co-chair development committee, president of The Susan Davis Companies; Lee Atwater, chairman of the Republican National Committee; Raymond C. Avansino, Jr. , partner in Avansino, Melarkey & Knobel; William E. Brock III, president of The Brock Group; Ronald H. Brown, chairman of the Democratic National Committee; Bruce Douglas; president of The Douglas Company; Christopher J. Dodd, U.S. Senate; Dante B. Fascell, U.S. House of Representatives; Harvey C. Fruehauf, Jr, president of HCF Enterprises; Frederick P. Furth, senior partner in Furth, Fahmer, Bluemle & Mason; Glen R. Greenberg, president of Turbine Controls, Inc. ; Robert Trent Jones, Jr, president of Robert Trent Jones II Company; Elliott F. Kulick; Robert J. Lagomarsino, U.S. House of Representatives; Richard G. Lugar; U.S. Senate; Jane H. Macon, partner in Fulbright & Jaworski; Paul J. Manafort, Jr, principal in Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly; Charles T. Manatt, partner in Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Evans; Charles S. Robb, U.S. Senate; Edward J. Rollins, cochairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee; William D. Rollnick, president of Genstar Rental Electronics; John Ryan, president of Ryan, Elliott & Company; Allan Schaefer, president of Allan Schaefer Enterprises; John R. Silber, president of Boston University; Guy L. Smith, IV, vice president corporate affairs, Philip Morris Companies, Inc. ; Rodolfo Strauss, president of Strauss Plastic; Dennis E. Wheeler, president of Coeur d’Alene Mines Corporation; Pete Wilson, Governor of California; Anthony Harrington, counsel to the board, partner in Hogan & Hartson; David Norcross, co-counsel to the board, partner in Myers, Matteo, Rabil, Norcross & Landgraf. (1)

Former board members include: Marshall Coyne, proprietor of The Madison Hotels; Anthony Cutaia, president of The Butler Realty Group; John F. Kerry, U.S. Senate; F. Clifton White, director of the John H. Ashbrook Center; A. Robert Abboud, A. Robert Abboud & Company; Frank Drozak (deceased), president of the Seafarers International Union; William S. Edgerly, chairman of the board of the State Street Bank and Trust Company; Thomas M. Gaubert, chairman of the board of The Independent American Group; James F. Keenan, chief executive officer Pace Industries & Petro General; Eva Roman, chair of the board of CCI, Inc. ; Thomas F. Stroock, president of Alpha Exploration, Inc. ; and Richard S. Williamson, partner in Mayer, Brown & Platt. (2,3)

Senior staff at the Center in 1989 included: Program Directors Mary R. Donaldson, Caleb C. McCarry, and Paul Nathanson; Controller Avis Worrell; and Assistant to the President Pamela R. Reeves. (4)

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