U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz, born and raised in Ukraine, votes against aid for her homeland

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Victoria Spartz

U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz, the first and only Ukrainian-born member of Congress, emerged early on as a natural advocate for supporting her native country in its war with Russia. But when $61 billion in additional support for the war effort came up for a vote in the House recently, she voted against it.

Instead she has called for better oversight of U.S. funds and opposed giving “blank checks” to the Ukrainian cause. She says U.S. border security should be a bigger priority.

That puts her more in line with conservative House Republicans and more notably with voters in her deeply conservative central Indiana congressional district. She’s locked in a tough reelection fight in the May 7 GOP primary, made all the more complicated by her public announcement more than a year ago that she wouldn’t seek another term, a decision she later reversed.

The aid package, part of a larger bill that also included assistance for Israel, Taiwan and other global hot spots, was approved by the House on April 20, the Senate on April 23 and signed into law by President Joe Biden on April 24.

Spartz said she is “kind of appalled” at the notion that her heritage should dictate support for the Ukrainian cause if she feels the money would be wasted.

“My responsibility is the protection of American people,” she said during a recent interview.

Spartz spoke at an event hosted by the Hamilton County GOP at a community center in Sheridan, Indiana, a town of a few thousand people. The event in a hall just off of the town’s main street was attended by eight of the nine GOP primary candidates, who were able to make their case to voters and county Republican officials one at a time during a meet-and-greet that also included short speeches by the candidates.

Mike Murphy, a former Indiana state representative and political commentator, said in a phone interview that funding for Ukraine isn’t much of a priority for Republican voters these days. Concern about the southern border is a greater catalyst for participation, which isn’t lost on candidates in the conservative district. Most of Spartz’s opponents for the 5th district seat have said protecting the U.S.-Mexico border should be a bigger priority than sending money to Ukraine.

“They’re all gunning to be as Trump-like as possible,” Murphy said.

Border security has been hammered in the campaign by state Rep. Chuck Goodrich, the most well-funded of Spartz’s eight challengers. He has attacked Spartz on her original support to Ukraine, saying she puts “Ukraine first.”

Goodrich, who attended the Sheridan event, acknowledged that Indiana is far from Mexico but said illegal drugs such as fentanyl enter the U.S. through the southern border and pose a threat deep in the heartland.

“Every state is a border state,” he said in an interview.

Spartz beat a crowded 2020 primary field, winning nearly 40% of the vote and receiving former President Donald Trump’s general election endorsement. She ran unopposed in the 2022 primary.

Spartz made things harder for herself when she announced in early 2023 that she would not run again, citing fatigue with Washington politics and her desire to spend more time with her family. She also threatened to resign if the national debt was not addressed.

For an entire year, that left the runway clear for candidates to campaign in one of most conservative districts in the state, composed of a mix of rural and suburban counties north of Indianapolis. Trump took the district in 2020, and it was redistricted to further favor Republicans that same year.

Campaign finance reports show Spartz trailing Goodrich in campaign funds, in part because Goodrich has put up $2.6 million of his own money. Goodrich, who represents the wealthy Indianapolis suburb of Hamilton County in the state legislature, outspent Spartz by $1.9 million in the first three months of 2024 and has loaned his campaign a total of $4.6 million, according to reports.

Spartz entered the final weeks before the primary with $134,000 of cash on hand compared to Goodrich’s $1.3 million.

Trump has not made an endorsement in the 5th district this year. He’s been ambivalent about aid to Ukraine, saying the war would not have happened if he had been president and that any support should take the form of loans rather than grants.

Even with Spartz’s short campaign runway, she retains the advantage of incumbency. She has accused Goodrich of cozying up to China and labeled him “Republican in Name Only.”

With Trump’s Republican nomination for the presidency secured, turnout is expected to be low.

Spartz, 45, immigrated to the U.S. in 2000 after meeting her husband from Indiana on a train in Europe. She started as a bank teller, later taught as an adjunct faculty member at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business and owns farm property.

After a long-time state senator retired before the end of his term, Hamilton County GOP officials selected Spartz, who was involved with the county party, to fill his term in 2017. She served three sessions in the statehouse before her election to Congress.

In an emotional news conference in 2022, Spartz called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “ genocide.” She described bombings her grandmother and friends in Ukraine had witnessed.

Later that year, she began to criticize Ukraine’s leaders, including President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In the Sheridan interview, Spartz said “brave people” are “dying for freedom” in Ukraine but accused the Ukrainian government of corruption.

During her speech to voters, Spartz made no mention of the war in Ukraine. Instead she framed the stakes of her reelection as a fight against party hypocrisy, saying some of her fellow Republicans act like socialists.

Drawing on her experience growing up in the Soviet Union, as she has often done throughout her political career, she warned of a socialist future in the United States.

“I’m going to fight the righteous fight,” she declared.

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20 thoughts on “U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz, born and raised in Ukraine, votes against aid for her homeland

  1. Trump wants the be the Putin of the United States. Those in the Republican party who want to be in his favor when he turns the US into the new Russia know they have to oppose aid to Ukraine if they want into the American oligarch club. If she is all about security at the southern border, why did she oppose the border bill in the House? Trump told her to oppose the bill or he would ruin her.

    1. David S.

      Don’t blame the disaster at our Southern border on the R’s. This mess
      Is completely on Biden and the Dems. This mess started at the
      National Dem Presidential Primary debate. Every last Dem on that debate
      stage **. pledged free Everything to any illegal crossing our border**.

      Second, Biden rescinded all of Trumps border policies on day one in office.

      If you fear a Putin type of President taking over in the U.S., you should
      fear Biden and the Dems.

    2. Keith:

      Why, because Biden’s gone on the record claiming that he’d be a dictator if re-elected? Can you show me those quotes? How many times has Joe Biden claimed he should get a third term?

      Because he’s got people working on a plan to fire everyone in the Civil Services who doesn’t profess fealty to him over the Constitution?

      Much like Hunter Biden is being prosecuted for things the Trump kids actually pulled off, you’ve managed to convince yourself that Joe Biden is going to do what Donald Trump is clearly and repeatedly saying out loud that he WILL do.

      Just a reminder, Republicans got everything they wanted in border policies from Democrats and they turned it down. They have no interest in border security, other than it being a continual issue to rally voters. They don’t actually want to stop migrants from coming here. The big money behind Republicans has no interest in paying more for workers. Heck, the same farmers who vote for Republicans will tell you they need migrants or we have no crops.

      As with abortion, Republicans should most fear getting what they claim they want.

    1. Door Joe,
      The ones you fear are Biden and the Dems. It is your Dems that constantly
      punch down on the white working class voters. Look at Hillary Clinton
      and Dem diehards such as Katie Couric.

  2. How can anyone take her seriously?
    She calls bombing her motherland a “genocide” but is against aid,
    She says she’s retiring then runs for reelection,
    She calls Indiana a Border State but votes against border security.
    Who is she representing?

    1. Today’s MAGA Republicans are just a fraud interested in giving the common man some laughs at punching down on some minority in exchange for rolling back Roosevelt’s New Deal because the ultra rich want their money back.

      Sure, you’re working two jobs to make ends meet and your kids will never be able to own their own house because Wall Street is buying all the starter homes to turn them into permanent renters, but we fixed that nonexistent issue with transgendered sports! Didn’t that make you forget about miserable your lot in life is, or how you’re one medical issue from bankruptcy? Vote for us again!

      If you’re expecting ideological coherence or any interest in effective governance, good luck with that. I mean, Democrats giving Republicans everything they claimed to want for border security… with nothing in return like a pathway for Dreamers … and Republicans turning it down for political reasons should have exposed them as the frauds they are.

      Republicans have no interest in actually doing anything. Look at the food fight they’ve had in the House the last two years.

    2. I don’t know enough about Spartz to have more than mixed feelings about her, but it’s just possible that she might have an awareness of the seemingly limitless corruption driving the federal-level governance in Ukraine. And that the Clown Prince himself is using much of the US aid to enrich his buddies, while making sure to save plenty of remnants for Kyiv’s top-tier hairstylists, cocaine, and steroids. I mean, she DID live there. She’s more familiar with Zelenskyy’s pre-presidency goofball antics than we are.

      The usual gaggle of legacy media trough-feeders while chime in and blame MAGA. See below–or above, depending on where my response appears. It must be deeply frustrating to the Liz Cheney/Nikki Haley/Nancy Pelosi/Hillary Clinton (all basically the same person) Unipartyists how even the steady stream of propaganda isn’t helping their beloved demented #46. It’s almost like many of us know that Dem’s “border deal” was a total pig and a poke, and fence sitters like Spartz risk standing on thin ice if they appease the Uniparty too much by flushing more greenbacks down a Ukrainian latrine.

      IBJ’s claque of neo-liberal ex-neo-cons (they had to pivot exactly 2 degrees to go from one to the other) keep worshiping at the shrine of MNSBC and CNN AND Fox as long as they remain on the air. And Larry Fink will keep pumping other people’s money to the first two until he runs out…which of course will mean WE run out. And the surviving Koch brother will pump money into Fox.

      Don’t worry, I know that by stating what a cesspit Ukraine is, I’m not throwing stones from glass houses. Because we’re no better.

    3. Always nice to see the Putinistas check in. Vladimir has the Republican Party, led by useful idiots, fully under his control. Tell us how much you hate Reagan for ending the Cold War, “Lauren”.

  3. Quits then decides not to quit- shows no resilience. Agree the lack of support for her own home country makes one wonder what her principles are.

    1. No principles = something that also characterizes Ukrainian leadership

      Not saying Putin isn’t an expansionist dictator whose death would make the world a better place, but the media’s hilarious effort to cast a halo around Zelenskyy and shield him from criticism is absurd. And absurd to the tune of billions of dollars.

      Spartz is a politician so I don’t expect we know her full intentions, many of which are inevitably self-serving. But certainly is aware of how Ukrainians typically engage in business and diplomacy. The backroom details between Hunter and “the Big Guy” aren’t an aberration.

  4. Good on Spartz for voting for the American people and against this latest installment in our forever wars. The United States started the war in Ukraine and could end it in 10 minutes. It clearly is not in our national interest, but our military-industrial complex cares not a whit about what’s good for the U.S. population.

  5. What has she done for her district is the key question. Is she a reasonable, rational and responsible representative. Or is she simply capitulating to the sentiments du jour or the ex-president. Who knows.

    Seems odd that first she was outfitted at every event in yellow and blue, looking sad and forlorn but suddenly she does not support Ukraine. But then again, she’s most likely not feeling Ukrainian after some time in the US.

    But she does appear to condone the aggression of Putin. So Putin has the right to attack any country at will? What is the justification of the attack on Ukraine and should the US adopt a total isolationist polity (of course the US is not doing so). Did trump promise to deliver Ukraine to Russia — and perhaps after the defeat of trump Putin lost patience and just decided to the country violently, Is Moldova next? Finland? The Baltics? Hungary? Is the an egoistic quest to regain what Russia lost.

  6. She seems to not understand how legislation works. She finds something in each bill to object to on “principle” so she can reject the whole bill. Was aid to Ukraine/Israel/Taiwan perfect? Of course not, no bill is perfect. Was the border bill perfect? No. But both bills were far more beneficial and crucial in total. Playing politics and being like the spoiled little kid who quits because she doesn’t get everything she wants is unacceptable. We keep making excuses for it when “our team” does it, but that’s just badly damaging the health of our country and the world. Spartz is not helping our country however much she wants to pose otherwise.

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