The US ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, has been accused of election interference by Dutch lawmakers for hosting an event for a political party at the US embassy in Wassenaar.
The event, held on September 10th, was for the right-wing Forum for Democracy party. Some reports say the party was a fundraiser, which would be direct interference in domestic politics and a violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations.
In comments defending Hoekstra, the US State Department said on Wednesday that the event was “not a political fundraiser” but a “town hall discussion.” The State Department said the event was just an example of Hoekstra’s engagement with a “range of Dutch political parties.”
The Dutch magazine De Groene Amsterdammer first reported on the event on Monday and said invitations were sent out in the name of “the Forum for Democracy and Pete Hoekstra.” The invitation also had contact details for the party’s head of fundraising.
An unnamed entrepreneur who attended the event told De Groene Amsterdammer that the event was “certainly not a town hall meeting” but more of an “informal kick-off for the election campaign.”
Dutch MP Bram van Ojik from the country’s Greens party said the event should have never happened. “This is interference in our elections,” Bram said. Other Dutch politicians are calling for an investigation into whether or not the event was a fundraiser.
Thierry Baudet, the leader of the Forum for Democracy party, said the idea that the party was a fundraiser is a “conspiracy theory.” Hoekstra, who was appointed by President Trump in 2017, has been affiliated with the party before. Last November, the ambassador spoke at a Forum for Democracy conference.