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The Wolfowitz-Riza Scandal & What Happened to the $35 million America Pumped into the Foundation for the Future?

04/14/2007 11:52 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

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Beyond the question of what Shaha Riza's compensation was and how she got it -- is what she has been doing and for whom. She was reportedly seconded to the multi-nationally supported "Foundation for the Future," which was really a part of America's public diplomacy game plan.

For those interested, this is a pdf of the "Chair's Summary" from the "Third Forum for the Future" held November 30-December 1, 2006 at Dead Sea, Jordan.

The roster of donors to the Foundation for the Future, launched with $56 million, included a seed grant from the U.S. for $35 million:

United States: $35 million

European Commission: 1 million euros

Spain: $1 million

United Kingdom: $1 million

Switzerland: $1 million

Denmark :$2 million

Netherlands: $1 million

Greece: $1.5 million

Turkey: $500,000

Italy: TBD

Hungary: In kind

Jordan: $1 million

Qatar: $10 million

Bahrain: TBD

But strangely, few seem to know much about the Foundation for the Future at the State Department. To be fair, maybe some do -- but in this interesting exchange between a journalist and State Department Deputy Press Spokesman Tom Casey, it is clear that the Foundation for the Future is not a high priority at State.

Here is the interesting exchange highlighting that no one seems to know how to make a call to the Foundation for the Future -- (does Shaha Riza have an office or phone extension wherever this office may be?):

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you something kind of on the margins of the whole World Bank Shaha Riza matter, and that is that, as you remember, Secretary Rice announced the formation or at least the launch of this Foundation for the Future in, I think, November of 2005.

And at least as far as -- well, it's very hard to find this foundation. You go to their website. They have a website but there's no phone numbers, there's no address. They appear to have not given out any grants.

They haven't set up office, that at least one can find. And considering it was launched with some fanfare at the time, I'm just curious if you could bring us up to speed a little bit as to what this foundation consists of and where you -- where it seems to be going. I don't even -- it's hard to see how much money it is that the U.S. has put into this, for one.

MR. CASEY: Neil, I actually haven't, unfortunately, briefed myself on the latest activities from the Foundation. Look, as you know, this was something that has emerged out of the Forum for the Future process.

It has an international board of directors representing -- with representatives from most of the participating regional countries there as well as an executive directorate. In terms of the amount of money involved at this point and some of the specific grant programs, I'll have to look into it for you. I just don't have that at my fingertips. Sorry.

QUESTION: Are you taking the question?

MR. CASEY: Yes, I'm taking the question.

QUESTION: But is Ms. Shaha a consultant or a fulltime employee of the board? What is her status?

MR. CASEY: My understanding is she is an individual seconded by the World Bank as an advisor to the board of directors of the Foundation for the Future.

QUESTION: But she's not on the board?

MR. CASEY: No.

QUESTION: So her official title is advisor or consultant?

MR. CASEY: My best understanding is advisor to the board, yeah.

QUESTION: So what does she do as the advisor? I mean, does she help advise on grants, or do you know what her job is?

MR. CASEY: I do not have a job description for her, no. Again, I think that's a question you could ask some of the board members.

QUESTION: Do you know where the office is?

MR. CASEY: No, but I don't know where the office is for a number of parts of the State Department offhand, Matt. So I will get you -- I will get you guys more information.

QUESTION: Isn't there an agreement for the office to be based in Beirut?

MR. CASEY: I'd have to check. I honestly don't know the details on the specifics of the foundation.

One question beyond the Wolfowitz-Riza Scandal is how many "consultants" does the Department of State (or other Departments like DoD, DoE, and others) have along these lines?

Remember the odd case of Matthew Freedman working under then Under Secretary of State John Bolton's office? Few knew what he did or what his responsibilities were justifying his six figure consultant's salary -- which he maintained while consulting private firms that had business with the government.

How much of this is happening throughout the government?

-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note