Corrupt Politicians and Tools of the Gulen Movement

Corrupt Politicians and Tools of the Gulen Movement
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gulen's Pacifica Institute gives free trip to Turkey for Idaho politicians, one with a "Drunken" past.

Idahoans vote the "drunk" out

Kevin Richert: Why are Idaho politicos doing the Turkey trot?
 - Idaho Statesman
The good news: Several Idaho legislators were unhurt this week in a deadly bombing in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
And no, the lawmakers were not traveling overseas on the state taxpayers’ nickel.
But that still leaves some nagging questions. What exactly are Idaho lawmakers doing touring Turkey in the first place? And what does a nonprofit group hope to accomplish by squiring Idaho legislators around for 10 days?
There are — in life and in politics — no freebies.
This tour was bankrolled by the Pacifica Institute, a group of Turkish-Americans seeking “to develop social capital — the creation and extension of positive connections within and between disparate social networks.”
To that end, whatever it means, the group is picking up lodging, meals and in-country travel for at least six lawmakers and some spouses. The lawmakers paid for their own airfare.
The details are sketchy, since this is not an official state trip, but here’s who we know was on the tour: Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg; Sen. Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston; Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell; Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum; Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello; and Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding. (Of course, McGee hasn’t found the time to talk about his June travels through a Boise subdivision in search of “the promised land,” and the drunken-driving guilty plea that ensued. So this gives him one more odyssey to explain.)
Getting beyond the development of “social capital,” is there tangible capital to develop here? Probably. Turkey is the world’s 15th-largest economy, according to a 2011 Senate resolution promoting Idaho-Turkish relationships, though Turkey didn’t even make Idaho’s Top 25 export markets list in 2010. But this isn’t a trade mission designed to boost Idaho’s $5.15 billion export industry.
This is a ... what, exactly? In an email Friday to our Dan Popkey, Hill described the trip as a chance to visit Turkish schools, universities and families, and meet with “many government, education and religious leaders.”
Something perfectly legal yet oddly hinky. There’s a reason why most newspapers resist accepting junkets paid by industry; the appearance of undue influence is unavoidable. As rules of thumb go, politicians could do worse.
Give the University of Idaho credit. After stonewalling in the aftermath of the Aug. 22 slaying of graduate student Katy Benoit of Boise, the university has been doing a lot of the right things.
The university has released some records and has gone to court seeking to release records pertaining to Ernesto Bustamante, the former assistant psychology professor who is believed to have shot Benoit 11 times before taking his own life.
The U of I recently named a three-member panel to review its safety and security procedures. And the panel includes a home-run pick, Linda Copple Trout, a former chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court. She gives this review instant credibility.
I still believe the U of I has a lot to answer to. I want to know whether it ignored warning signs about Bustamante, who openly discussed his psychological disorders in class. (And, as I’ve said before, I have a personal interest: My oldest son, a U of I senior, took a class from Bustamante.)
Let’s hope this panel, which includes administrators from the University of Montana and Oregon State University, asks the right, tough questions.
Former U.S. Senate and gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell will face only a misdemeanor charge of battery stemming from a confrontation on his Idaho County property.
The Lewiston Tribune had reported Rammell would face a felony — which, if it stood, would preclude the perennial candidate from seeking office again. But when a formal complaint was filed last week, the charge was a misdemeanor.
The article weaves a bizarre tale of events leading up to Rammell’s arrest. He had let William Shira’s older son, daughter-in-law and two children live in a house Rammell leased. Instead, Rammell told the Tribune’s Kathy Hedberg, about 15 people who moved in without his permission.
On Sept. 8, a confrontation turned physical. Rammell tried to make a citizen’s arrest, charging Shira with trespassing, but a deputy charged Rammell with battery. All this comes after Rammell and a business partner moved the Shiras’ belongings off the property and, according to the Tribune, blew up a mine the Shiras claimed was full of gold.
Somewhere, Yosemite Sam must be proud. © 2011 Idaho Statesman
Kevin Richert: 377-6437
Whenever states enter into the international arena of business and diplomacy you can figure there is something wrong with the plan.
The local news outlets played it pretty straight yesterday when news was received that a delegation of Idaho legislators and their spouses was safe following a terrorist blast in Ankara, Turkey. This was nothing more than a junket payed for by the Turkish government in our opinion. It could be only a tourist promotion, but the Turks have been hustling public officials for several years. WHY?
Over the past 40 years the GUARDIAN has witnessed visits from officials in Taiwan to the legislature at a time when the island nation was struggling to remain independent–the USA does not recognize Taiwan today as a country, but various states have trade offices in Taipei.
We also saw farmers sucking up to a Libyan delegation claiming to be interested in Idaho wheat–they wanted hard red, but we grow soft white. A complex sale agreement was worked out, but the actual grain was not grown in Idaho. The reason for the Idaho interest turned out to be former Senator Frank Church’s opposition to selling US-made C-130 aircraft to Libya which could be used against Israel. The deal even had an “anti-Zionist” clause.
One politico appeared on Channel 7 saying he had taken the bait last year and had a most pleasant trip, noting the Turks are interested in Idaho beef. The legislature has no beef to sell. Ranchers have beef, but they didn’t get the freebie. We think there is a move to “BUY” political support for Turkey which has a lot of politics and diplomacy on its plate with the European Union, USA, Russia, and Israel at the moment. There is also an Islamic group called the “Gulen movement” which may be using local officials as pawns in an international chess game centered around charter schools of all things.
We got a call from one local official who said he turned down the offer for a free trip to Turkey–airfare was NOT covered–because it was simply against the law. The local guy told us there was so much value in the gift that it would have clearly violated the Idaho ethics law. He was invited solely based on his official position.
Seems HAWAII has a little better handle on ethics issues.

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