Penn Kemble

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Penn Kemble was the organizer of the "Gang of Four"--four young Democrats who became contra supporters in the mid-1980s. Kemble and his crew played a key behind-the-scenes role in obtaining congressional support for aid to the Nicaraguan contras. (35) Kemble was the co-founder and president of the board of the Friends of the Democratic Center in Central America (PRODEMCA). (42) PRODEMCA received funding from a conduit for money and arms in Ollie North's Iran-Contra network. (35) It also received major funding from NED for support of La Prensa and other anti-Sandinista political and media groups inside Nicaragua. (2,13,14) Kemble was co-founder of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), an organization with the goal of "restoring democratic values" to churches. (43) IRD targeted progressive religious organizations active in third world countries and charged them with aiding communism. (44) IRD has received funding from the U.S. Information Agency. (43) Kemble was a founder of the CDM.[1]

Penn Kemble was on the advisory committee of the U.S. Information Agency's (USIA) Voice of America.[2]

Penn was a “great coalitionist,” says Georgetown University professor Roy Godson, “decade in and decade out, actually bringing diverse leaders, groups, parties, and sometimes even governments together to multiply their effectiveness and to advance freedom and decency across the globe.” While others committed themselves to careers or engagement with major institutions or movements such as organized labor, Penn was a consummate networker.[3]


External resources


  1. Profile: Social Democrats USA, RightWeb, accessed 17 May 208.
  2. Profile: Social Democrats USA, RightWeb, accessed 17 May 208.
  3. Democracy Digest: Special Memorial Issue, 14 December 2005.