HOW REP. CHRIS SMITH SPENDS YOUR MONEY…. Rep. Chris Smith (R) of New Jersey spent last week in Kenya, which wouldn’t be especially interesting were it not for his efforts while there. Kate Sheppard has this unnerving piece this week.

Kenyan abortion restrictions go far beyond those in American law, and Kenya’s new constitution, approved overwhelmingly last August, codifies a ban on abortions in the country. But that’s not enough for Smith and US anti-abortion groups, who argue that the exception allowing for legal abortions to preserve the health of the mother “opens the door to abortion on demand.”

Smith wasn’t just meeting with Kenyan politicians and activists during his time in East Africa — he was actively politicking. On March 21, Smith spoke at an event on the new constitution sponsored by the Kenya Christian Professional Forum in Limuru, a town about 35 miles outside Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. A staffer for the US-based group Center for Reproductive Rights, which recently opened an office in Nairobi, took notes during the speech. In it, the congressman reportedly called for “a world free of abortion.” Smith also accused “pro-abortion NGOs” of having “hijacked” the maternal mortality issue in order to legalize the killing of the unborn, CRR says.

Now, if Smith wants to operate as an international crusader against reproductive rights, he can. How he chooses to spend his time is his business.

But Smith went to Kenya on our dime, and spoke in the country in his capacity as an elected American official.

In other words, Kenya’s new anti-abortion law allows women to terminate their pregnancies if their lives are on the line. Smith used our money to travel to the African nation and effectively serve the role of a lobbyist, pushing to make matters even more difficult for Kenyan women.

Maybe this guy is in the wrong line of work, and if he wants to travel the globe to lobby against laws like these, Smith should leave Congress and stop asking American taxpayers to finance his efforts.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.