In a March 15 report about a new poll showing that Iraqis "believe their country is headed in the right direction," USA Today failed to inform readers about the partisan ties of the poll's sponsor, the International Republican Institute (IRI). Instead, the article told readers that, "The IRI is a non-partisan, U.S. taxpayer-funded group that promotes democracy abroad," echoing the language on the organization's website. The Associated Press used the same language on April 14, 2003, calling the IRI "a non-partisan organization dedicated to advancing democracy worldwide."
The IRI does receive U.S. funds through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). IRI is listed as one of two "core grantees" that receive NED grants for "programs that promote pluralism and free and fair elections." The other organization under the same category is IRI's apparent Democratic counterpart, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, chaired by former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.
Well-connected Republicans fill every seat on IRI's board of directors:
- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is the chairman of the board.
- Peter Madigan was the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs under President George H.W. Bush.
- J. William Middendorf II was the secretary of the Navy under President Gerald R. Ford, and former U.S. permanent representative to the Organization of American States and U.S. representative to the European Communities under President Ronald Reagan.
- Gahl Hodges Burt was the social secretary for former first lady Nancy Reagan.
- Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) is chairman of the House Rules Committee and chairman of the California Republican Congressional Delegation.
- Lawrence S. Eagleburger was the secretary of state under George H.W. Bush.
- Alison B. Fortier was the special assistant to the president for national security affairs during the Reagan administration. She also worked in the Legislative Affairs Directorate of the National Security Council.
- James A. Garner is the conservative Republican mayor of Hempstead, New York. He has significant ties to the national party leadership.
- Susan Golding is the former Republican mayor of San Diego.
- Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, Export, and Trade Promotion.
- Cheryl F. Halpern was appointed to the Broadcasting Board of Governors by President George W. Bush. She and her husband, Fred Halpern, donated $211,428 to political candidates in 2004, 98 percent of which went to Republicans. She serves as an executive board member at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which is funded by the conservative Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
- William J. Hybl was the special counsel to the president under Reagan and the U.S. representative to the U.N. General Assembly under George W. Bush.
- Robert M. Kimmitt was the National Security Council's executive secretary and general counsel under Reagan.
- Jeane J. Kirkpatrick is a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under Reagan.
- Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ).
- Fred Meyer is the former chairman of the RNC Victory 2000 program and the Presidential Inauguration 2001 Executive Committee, and is the current chairman of the RNC's Presidential Victory Team.
- Janet G. Mullins Grissom was the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs under George H.W. Bush.
- Alec L. Poitevint II is a national committeeman from the Georgia Republican National Committee.
- Randy Scheunemann was a consultant in 2001 to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He served as defense and foreign policy coordinator for Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign and a member of the 1996 Republican Platform Committee. He also worked as the national security adviser to Senate majority leaders Bob Dole and Trent Lott.
- Joseph R. Schmuckler is a board member of the conservative think tank Empower America and its current incarnation, FreedomWorks. FreedomWorks, whose chairman is former House Majority Leader Richard Armey, formed when Empower America merged with the conservative group Citizens for a Sound Economy.
- Brent Scowcroft was the national security adviser to presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush. He currently serves as the chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under George W. Bush.
- Marilyn Ware is a member of the Board of Trustees of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
- Richard Williamson has served in various capacities in Republican administrations, including ambassador and U.S. representative to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights under George W. Bush and assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs under Reagan.