Jean Kennedy Smith, former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, has been fined by the U.S. Justice Department for soliciting $1 million from the Irish government for the Kennedy Center , the Washington Post reported Sept. 23.
The donation helped fund an Irish Festival at the Center.
The government found that Smith, who served as ambassador for five years and is a member of the Kennedy Center’s board, violated a federal conflict-of-interest law by making the solicitation in August 1998. She wrote a letter to Prime Minister Bertie Ahern on State Department stationery requesting support for the festival.
The Justice Department says Smith, who was appointed to the post by President Clinton, violated a law that “prohibits a federal executive branch employee from participating personally and substantially in a matter in which, an organization in which she is serving has a financial interest.”
The former ambassador, a sister of John F. and Robert F. Kennedy, denied any violation of the law, but agreed to pay the $5,000 fine to settle the matter.
For the festival, held last May, the Irish government donated $800,000 and the Northern Ireland government added $400,00. Smith was among other donors.
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