Townsel says she is a 'vocal, outspoken Democrat,' the mother of a 5-year-old daughter and a member of Mothers Opposing Bush, a national group that opposed President Bush's re-election. Townsel says she was not active in politics prior to the election and spent more than a decade working overseas, from 1987 to 1999. She said she sent the letter to the committee on April 8 'at the urging of friends.'
She alleged that Bolton harassed her in 1994 when she was working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on an advertising campaign supporting privatization in Kyrgyzstan, then a newly independent former Soviet republic.
Townsel had written a letter to USAID complaining about a lack of funds and personnel from the main contractor, International Business and Technical Consulting Inc. (IBTCI). Bolton, then a private attorney for the company, was sent to make her retract her complaint, she said.
'The fact that I didn't immediately do what he wanted me to do put a real burr in his saddle,' Townsel said. 'He threw a folder across the desk at me' during their first meeting, at the Aerostar hotel in Moscow. In a subsequent meeting, 'he threw a plastic tape dispenser at me.'
When Townsel would not withdraw her complaint, she says, Bolton spread rumors that she had stolen money and also referred disparagingly to her weight and hinted that she was a lesbian. 'When he didn't get his way, he was going to smear me,' she said.
In a letter to the committee, IBTCI President Jayant Kalotra denied that Bolton had been asked to contact Townsel. 'It is difficult to understand how Ms. Townsel could make such accusations with any veracity,' he wrote. Kalotra provided a copy of the letter to USA TODAY.
Kirby Jones, a Washington consultant, said Townsel told him of Bolton's behavior at the time. Jones, who was then executive vice president of the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, hired Townsel in late 1994 to work on projects in the former Soviet Union. Townsel told him that Bolton had accused her of stealing money. Bolton's employers, Jones said, 'were upset that she had reported them to (USAID), which was quite appropriate and proper to do. IBTCI and Bolton went after her in a vicious way.' Jones added that Townsel 'was terrific and did great work' for him.
I hope that the Senate has full hearings into this matter and that the USAID files are opened up for all to see, especially so we can figure out how Kyrgyzstan's democratic transition got messed up by USAID and its contractors (whatever happened here, it looks like something nasty might have been covered up, and not necessarily by John Bolton). Last month's Bishkek riots may have had their roots in Bolton's hotel confrontation...