Corrupt Politicians and Tools of the Gulen Movement

Corrupt Politicians and Tools of the Gulen Movement
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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ethiopia -- Ayka Addis Textile: One of the biggest foreign investments i...





Gulen TUSKON group has engulfed Ethiopia and Africa with industry, political bribes

and social control via Turkish Cultural centers, Turkish Schools and Mosques




Gulenists with President of Ethiopia showing Fethullah Gulen pamphlets and propaganda

June 28, 2016 Ethiopia gets non-Permanent UN Security Seat
http://www.dw.com/en/ethiopia-gets-non-permanent-un-security-council-seat/a-19362933

June 25, 2016 Ethiopia and Kenya sign oil pipeline deal 
http://www.theafricareport.com/East-Horn-Africa/ethiopia-and-kenya-in-oil-pipeline-deal.html

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

House Ethics Committee didn't prosecute politicians, Gulenists Kemal Oksuz Missing

esterday, I reported on the House Ethics Committee's 28-page exoneration of Danny Davis and lots of other representatives in the matter of an illegal junket arranged by former Niagara Foundation Executive Director Kemal Oksuz.

In short, the Committee found no major wrongdoing on the part of the representatives, and it took a ridiculous swing at the Washington Post for leaking information about the investigation. The Committee is not going to do anything else about the scandal, although the report was very clear that laws were probably broken, and that Mr. Oksuz exercised his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to a subpoena.

It looked like a dodge to me. It looked to me like the Committee was looking for a way to avoid looking into the central question of the whole thing: how did Azerbaijan's gas project get a mysterious exemption from the Iran sanctions?

It's a pretty big question, and they took a dive on it.  *[See below for one theory.]

I still don't know why, but I did look into the Committee's membership, and what I found was this: out of the ten members of the Ethics Committee, only five can't be connected to other junkets sponsored by Gulen-linked organizations. 

So, a committee of ten looking into the ethics of a giant Gulen-linked junket to Azerbaijan (and Turkey) has five members who have been on the receiving end of very similar junkets, sponsored by people easily connected to the people at play in the Azerbaijan junket.

Let's look at the Committee: The names highlighted in yellow are people who are somewhat compromised on this topic because they're connected to Gulen-sponsored junkets.



Only one Committee member appears to have recused herself. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) sat out because she herself was on the Azerbaijani junket--- the one being investigated. Good for her.  It was already common knowledge that she was on the trip, but I don't think it's widely understood that her junket-provider was another one of these shell foundations--- not one of the phony-baloney Texas ones that Mr. Oksuz cooked up, and has since lawyered up over. Ms. Clarke got sent by this Council of Turkic American Associations thing out of New York.


Tuck that name away; it comes up later in this post. 

If you're going to follow this story, you just have to accept that there are dozens of these 503 (c)'s around the country; I can't keep up with them. It's all run by a relatively small number of guys; they just keep inventing group names and changing them. That's how they roll. By the way, Mr. Kosar --- the guy sponsoring Ms. Clarke-- is affiliated with at least three Gulen-linked charter schools.  

You also have to accept that none of these Ethics Committee people are willing to acknowledge publicly the long reach of the Gulen Movement in the Azerbaijani scandal, or in their own junketing experiences. They don't mention the name; they don't acknowledge the relationships, the long courtship, the favors, the money. The Gulen Movement is the invisible hand behind the entire scandal; it touches the investigators and the targets.

Interestingly, Patrick Meehan (R-PA), one of the four completely clean members of this Committee, was the US Attorney who argued against Fethullah Gulen's visa in court in 2008. (Fascinating, read it some time. It's pretty blunt.) It doesn't surprise me that he's never been on a Gulen-sponsored junket to Turkey, Azerbaijan, or anywhere else. He can probably smell a rat from pretty far away. 

So, who on the Committee is compromised, to one extent or another? It's mainly the Democrats, as you can see above. It always pains me a bit to go after the political party I usually vote for, but that's just how this has all played out.

Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and her spouse went on Gulen-sponsored junket in 2011, sponsored by the West America Turkic Council, another one of these 503 (c)'s.


There's a name that keeps coming up, that particular fellow. Two charter schools connected to him (Sonoran Science Academy, Tuscon; BayTech, Oakland). He's the guy that can't find qualified math teachers in the US, so he brings people in from.... you guessed it....

I guess it's remotely possible that Ms. Sanchez could fail to connect the dots between her 2011 junket and this 2013 junket, even though her host and the 2013 host are closely connected to each other and politically well connected, I might add.  In all likelihood, though, she probably should have recused herself. She put herself in a position of having to police the friends of friends and people who've given her gifts.  I apologize for this error; it was Ms. Sanchez's sister -- who is also in Congress--- who took this junket. Probably still a hazy area of ethics, but my feeling right now is that it wouldn't call for a recusal. 

 Look, here's her (sister's) host, Ozkur Yildiz, schmoozing with President Obama. Mr. Oksuz might also be in that picture; it's hard to tell. He was at the event.


There is some discussion online about the Mr. Yildiz's changing appearance over time. I'll let you research it; I can't verify any of it, but in chronologically close images he does seem to be one person and then another.

John Larson (D-CT) has not reported a Gulen-sponsored junket for himself, but two of his staff members have been guests of the Gulen Movement. His staffers have received trips from non-Gulenist Turkish organizations as well, so Mr. Larson might have some insights about the different agendas of these trips, but who knows? Interestingly, Mr. Larson's staffer's junkets were paid for by the same group that paid for Yvette Clarke's 2013 junket --- and she recused herself. For example, this one:



Are you following? Rep. Clarke recused herself because she went to Azerbaijan in 2013 during the mega-junket under investigation. Rep. Larson, on the other hand, had staffers going to Turkey earlier in time, paid for by the same dude. It's right there in the gray zone, in terms of ethics, isn't it? He probably should have recused himself. If this thing were a jury, he'd have to declare that relationship.

Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) also had a staffer go on a Gulen-sponsored junket, in the early days of the Gulen junket program (2008). The itinerary is fascinating; it's a laundry list of Gulenist organizations, as well as Turkish political figures. It shows how closely connected the Gulen Movement was to the Turkish government in 2008. 

This particular junket was sponsored by the Turkish Cultural Center of New York, which we don't hear much about here in the midwest.  They were the group that glommed onto Bill Clinton in 2008.


Mr. Yoncu, the sponsor, can be found in the Gulenist press from time to time. 

This connection to Rep. Capuano is a bit tenuous--- it was long ago; I would be surprised is Representative Capuano's staffer even realized there was a connection. It's fine with me that he didn't recuse himself.

Democrat Ted Deutch appears to be completely untouched by Gulen-linked travel. He's been to Turkey, and so have his staffers, but the travel has not been sponsored by any of the Gulenist organizations.

Of the Republicans on the Committee... only Charlie Dent (from Pennsylvania, oddly) is touched by Gulen-sponsored travel. He appears to have been on the same junket as the Larson staffers in 2011.  So, he probably should have recused himself from the Azerbaijani investigation. Rep. Dent is the chair of the Ethics Committee; he traveled to Turkey in 2011 on the dime of the very same person who sent Rep. Clarke to Azerbaijan in 2013. He definitely should have recused himself, now that I think about it.




The other Republicans on the Committee are apparently clean, in terms of Gulen-sponsored travel. Ms. Brooks is very new to Congress, although the Gulenists are reaching out to her, big time. Here she is with FBI search warrant target Bilal Eksili.  Mr. Gowdy has not reported any Turkish travel, nor has the Texan, Mr. Marchand (he has made a cameo at one of the Gulen-linked charter schools in that dreadful state, or they visited him. I can't tell from the picture.)

I guess I understand why the Committee didn't pursue the big question of the Azerbaijani episode: both the chair and the ranking member have personal exposure, and so do other members. But I think the Republicans might have been asleep at the wheel here.

Given how much the Republicans are moaning and groaning about the possible lifting of the Iran sanctions, they probably could have painted this thing as another example of the Democrats going out of their way to weaken the Iran sanctions before eventually just bargaining them away. But then again, the Republicans have their own exposure with the Ethics Committee chair. I'm glad they didn't go down that road, but they could have.

It may be over, but it still stinks. The event itself was appalling, and the investigation was pretty much a whitewash. If there's any question about the value these junkets have as an investment for the Gulen Movement, there shouldn't be. It's obvious.

*About the Shah Deniz exemption to the Iran sanctions:  Evidently the exemption was sponsored by Rep. Greg Meeks (D-NY), at least according to this. Meeks was on the junket.Here he is with with Kemal Oksuz, the guy who took the 5th Amendment rather than get into a discussion with the Ethics Committee. So, Meeks possibly did the quid pro quo for the junket, but I'm guessing he wasn't alone. The weirder thing is that the Ethics Committee isn't taking the issue up at all.


House Ethics Committee - Danny Davis Cleared but not so much the Gulenists

Azerbaijan is where the Gulenists started their first schools some 22 years ago
at the direction of the CIA to control natural resources.  today Gulenists control
SOCAR

From Tim Furman http://www.tbfurman.us/2015/08/danny-davis-cleared-gulenists-not-so.html

Danny Davis and others have been cleared of wrongdoing by the House Ethics Committee for the Gulen-arranged lobbying orgy that took place in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2013.

WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee said Friday it found no evidence of wrongdoing by a bipartisan group of lawmakers who went on a 2013 trip to Azerbaijan paid for by that country’s government.

It seems like a legitimate ruling to me, at least on the superficial level. The lawmakers all cleared the trip through House ethics office; it wasn't until later that it became apparent that it was an illegal arrangement between the Azerbaijani government and the Gulen-linked individuals in Texas. The lawmakers probably should have known better, and they definitely broke some gift rules during the trip, but they aren't responsible for the trip's underlying illegality, which evidently got past the ethics office in the first place.

In fact, the only person in the entire 28-page report coming off as having something to hide is the former executive director of Chicago's Niagara Foundation, Kemal Oksuz, who set up a similar shop in Texas after leaving the Chicago-based organization.  He took his 5th Amendment right rather than testify:

Mr. Oksuz clammed up sometime after the the story leaked in the press, and the committee blasted the Post for it.
As suchthe unauthorized disclosure of the materiato The Washington Post impeded the Committee's ongoing investigationanprevented itfrom gathering informatiocritical to its investigation. 
I myself find that line of reasoning a bit suspicious; the Houston Chronicle broke the story almost a year earlier, and Mr. Oksuz surely reads the Texas papers. He was probably never going to comply with the subpoenas. Indeed, he had already started to clam up in 2014.
Via email, Oksuz answered a few basic questions, but then repeatedly delayed and canceled interviews requested by the Chronicle. He did not respond to requests to provide updated financial records that his nonprofit must disclose under state and federal laws.
The Committee's anger at The Post seems a little bit like an excuse to stop investigating, the more I think about it. Why?

Because the Ethics Committee also appears to have taken a dive on this question: what did Azerbaijan get for their efforts?

Here's what the committee says in the report:


But even as early as 2014, the Chronicle people were able to connect the dots between the illegal junket and an exemption for a huge Azerbaijani gas project from the Iran sanctions--- the sanctions currently in the news.


So, it's going to be a permanent mystery. The Azerbaijanis got their gas project exempted from the complex Iran sanctions; the Gulenists got some cash* and Azerbaijani street credfor setting the whole thing up, and Danny Davis got a rug. And everyone got to party in Baku, and many also in Turkey, and that's how American laws are written.

It's really sort of amazing that the Ethics Committee dodged the question of the sanctions exemption when it's so central to the story. It's as if nobody in Congress can actually say who wrote the exemption into the law; it just appeared one day! Very fishy. The black eye the Gulenists received in this report will eventually heal; the thing that matters (for them) is that the Azerbaijanis and the Gulenists were successful; they got what they wanted, and the Committee isn't even going to look at question of the Iran sanctions, the Azerbaijani exemption, and who's inserting whole clauses into US law.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan is starting its show-trial of imprisoned journalist Khadija Ismayilova. It is a country where the government has no pretense of democratic values. And in the US, the Gulenists are the Azerbaijani's go-to guys for illegal lobbying, at least they were back in 2013. If it surprises you that an "interfaith" group could be involved with the illegal dealings of a corrupt and brutal dictatorship, then you haven't been paying attention.

Birds of a feather flock together, as they say.

The Gulenists, it seems to me, have dodged a bullet here. I don't see how a criminal prosecution moves forward after a report like this, although the door is open.
Despite these limitations, the Committee's investigation uncovered evidence of concertedpossiblcriminal, effortby various non-House individualand entities to misleathe House travelers and the Committee about the Trips' true sponsors and thfundinsources used to pay foMember and Houseemployee travel to Azerbaijan
 In Texas, Gulen-linked organizations run at least forty-five charter schools; they run four in Chicago. The schools are a huge part of the Gulen Movement's revenue stream. I point that out to remind people about the scale of the operation and that it's basically funded by U.S. taxpayers.

It isn't clear to me about Mr. Oksuz's current dealings in Illinois; he seems to have been focused in Texas and Louisiana** lately, after leaving Niagara. When you study the Movement, you see a lot of transferring around from one node to another. That they keep getting guests in the door at Niagara is in my mind a huge testament to the basic incuriousness of people; you don't have to dig very deep to see that what's going on underneath the interfaith veneer is part of a complex and sometimes ruthless influence agenda. People like to look the other way.

*Even the cash part is murky. If you read the report (p. 21), there's some highly strange discrepancies in the invoices. The only thing clear is that whatever ballet is going on with the numbers, Mr. Oksuz was the one doing the choreography.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Kemal Oksuz Gulenist leader of Assembly of Friends of Azerbaijan not mentioned in latest lavish "gifts" to lawmakers



A simple search would have revealed to 'THE HILL the connection of AFAZ (Assembly of Friends of Azerbaijan) with Kemal Oksuz and the Gulen Movement.  Why did "The Hill" leave out the names "Gulen" and "Kemal Oksuz"
Lawmakers who took a trip secretly funded by the government of Azerbaijan turned over jade earrings, tea sets, silk scarves, woven rugs and other gifts to the government after a watchdog report called the trip improper.
The list of gifts returned to the General Services Administration (GSA), which was obtained by The Hill through a Freedom of Information Act request, fills in more details about the trip to a 2013 conference in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku.
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In all, nine current member of Congress and 32 staff members attended the conference, each receiving thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts, according to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). Some of the lawmakers also went to Turkey after the conference in Baku and received additional gifts on that stop.
The OCE report on the trip was submitted to the House Ethics Committee on May 8, 2015, but was leaked to The Washington Post, which revealed the details of the report days later. 
The watchdog said Texas-based nonprofits filed false statements saying they were paying for the trip, when, in reality, the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, known as Socar, helped fund the conference and trips by funneling $750,000 to the nonprofit corporations.
Socar has denied all wrongdoing and said the nonprofit involved in helping lawmakers make arrangements, the Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan, failed to follow disclosure rules.
Both the OCE and House Ethics Committee found lawmakers and aides had no way of knowing the trip was being funded improperly.
Roughly a week before the House Ethics Committee released its report detailing its findings in July 2015, members of Congress who had taken the trip began returning the gifts they had received.
Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) and Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) all turned over gifts to the House clerk, who then handed them over to the GSA in October 2015, according to records obtained by The Hill.
Other gifts from the Azerbaijan trip that were returned include paperweights, pens, leather diaries, a DVD box set about the president of Azerbaijan and two rugs, one large and one small. Multiple lawmakers reported that the small rug appeared in their hotel rooms during the conference. 
In most cases, when a House member accepts a gift not allowed by ethics rules, they must either pay “fair market value” for it or return it to the person or entity that gave it to them. A member can also give gifts to the House clerk, who then transfers it to the GSA for disposal or sale.
Ethics rules for members of Congress say members may, in some cases, accept gifts valued at less than $50. Gifts from foreign governments and international organizations are allowed if they are valued at less than $350. 
Several members told the OCE that they believed the gifts had fallen below those reporting thresholds. 
The GSA spreadsheet of the gifts provided to The Hill lists Oct. 13 and Oct. 20 as the dates the gifts were received by the agency, though the House clerk apparently received them from members’ offices months earlier. 
Lujan Grisham, whose fiancé had  gone on the trip to Azerbaijan and Turkey with her, told the OCE during the investigations that many of the gifts she received were kept in her office. The earrings, a crystal tea set and a large rug were at her home in Washington, the report said, and another tea set was kept at her home in New Mexico.
The congresswoman ultimately surrendered 34 items to the House clerk, by far the most of any member, GSA records show. While her office said the gifts were given to the clerk on July 23, 2015, they did not arrive at the GSA until Oct. 13 and Oct. 20.
Those items included three briefcases, two decorative plates, paperweights, multiple sets of teacups, a DVD box set about the president of Azerbaijan, earrings, a map of Azerbaijan, a scarf, leather notebooks and two bottles of cologne.
According to the OCE report, Bridenstine had the two rugs he was given appraised and was told they had a value of $3,500 and $2,500. His chief of staff then found the source of the rugs and returned them to the donor in 2013.
Bridenstine gave his six-cup tea set to the House clerk for disposal on July 17 last year, his office told The Hill. The OCE report says he looked up the cups online, finding them to be worth $84.99. The GSA did not receive them from the House Clerk until Oct. 13, records show. 
The GSA received a large rug from Hinojosa and, from Clarke, a small rug and a purple silk scarf.
Two additional members — Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Danny Davis (D-Ill.) — donated rugs they had received on the trip to a charity and a local school in his district, respectively, their offices told The Hill. The House Ethics Committee approved the donations because of the  entities’ tax statuses. Davis also gave a leather briefcase from the trip to a volunteer in his office.
Reps. Ted Poe (R-Texas), Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Fla.) also went on the trip but did not talk to the OCE during the investigation, so it is not known what gifts they received. Lance’s office told The Hill that the congressman did not take any gifts.

Pacifica Institute - A Gulen Dialogue road show: LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia speaks at Gule...

Pacifica Institute - A Gulen Dialogue road show: LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia speaks at Gule...