Corrupt Politicians and Tools of the Gulen Movement

Corrupt Politicians and Tools of the Gulen Movement
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Gulen's Turkish Culture Center Honors Maine Governor Paul LePage, but NO SCHOOL APPROVED.

November 13

Speakers point to business and education ties and potential as the governor and two others receive awards.

SOUTH PORTLAND — To expand its economy, Maine must welcome more immigrants, Gov. Paul LePage said Tuesday, praising a new Turkish cultural organization for its work in the state.


Gov. Paul LePage gives a speech at the Sable Oaks Marriott in South Portland Tuesday after accepting a leadership award.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer


Eyup Sener, left, president of the Turkish Cultural Center Maine, presents Gov. Paul LePage with a traditional Turkish plate after LePage was honored with a leadership award at an annual Friendship Dinner held by the Turkish Cultural Center at the Sable Oaks Marriott in South Portland Tuesday.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

 “It’s time that we here in Maine appreciate and work with other countries to improve our economy,” LePage said as he accepted a leadership award from the Turkish Cultural Center Maine at its first Friendship Dinner, at the Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks.

“It’s important for Maine to grow,” the governor said. “We need to invite (immigrants) to come and live among us.”

Also honored were University of Maine professor Habib Dagher, who heads the school’s Offshore Wind Laboratory, and Maine Deputy Attorney General and Augusta Mayor William Stokes.

“We strongly believe that the friendship and alliance between the United States and Turkey will significantly contribute to the global peace,” said Eyup Sener, president of the Turkish Cultural Center Maine and the New England director of the Council of Turkic American Associations.

The Turkish Cultural Center has existed for only about two years, he said. About 300 people from Turkey are living in Maine, although if Turkic people from many countries in southeastern Europe are counted, that number climbs to about 2,500, Sener said.

Turkey is Maine’s 11th-largest international export destination. According to a U.S. Census report, $11 million worth of goods, ranging from dairy cattle to wood products, were shipped from Maine to Turkey in 2010 to 2011.

Several speakers at Tuesday’s event emphasized the potential for business and educational ties, while spreading a message of peace. Stokes said Augusta is in the final stages of establishing a sister-city relationship with Uskudar, a section or borough of Istanbul.

Several state legislators who attended the dinner have gone on one of the three trips the Turkish Cultural Center has organized for lawmakers to visit Turkey. There also are educational ties between Maine and Turkey.

Sener said his group organized a trip to Turkey this summer for officials from the University of Maine System, and an educational exchange agreement has been signed with officials at the University of Maine at Augusta.

At the K-12 level, a Turkish group is trying to open a charter school in Maine. It would be part of a network of 800 schools operated internationally by followers of a Turkish imam, Fethullah Gulen. The group’s application for a charter school in Bangor was denied in early 2013, and the group has applied again this fall, for a school in the Lewiston area.

Followers of Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, have been involved in starting at least 120 charter schools in 26 states, according to investigations by The New York Times, “60 Minutes,” USA Today and other news organizations. The schools are often top performers and have an entirely secular curriculum, but they have drawn criticism for their lack of transparency, their hiring and financial practices and concerns about their motivation, which experts say has as much to do with shaping the evolution of Turkey as it does with educating young Americans.

A short film on Gulen and his mission was shown at Tuesday’s dinner.

A key organization in Gulen’s network, the New York-based Council of Turkic American Associations, arranged for the Maine legislators’ subsidized trips to Turkey and asked Le- Page to issue an executive order declaring April 3, 2012, the first Turkish Cultural Day in Maine.

Last summer, state Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, Rep. Karen Kusiak, D-Fairfield, and Rep. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade, visited Turkey. The three comprise the advisory board for the Turkish Cultural Center Maine.

Katz said Tuesday that he hopes Maine can attract Turkish students to the state university system. He noted that Maine has an aging population that is not very diverse.

“The only way to change that is to become a place that welcomes everyone,” he said.

Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, also said he hopes the ties to Turkey will stimulate trade.

“Maine must be more welcoming,” he said. “There’s no doubt that Maine’s future rests on in-migration.”

Keschl also went on a trip in 2012, along with Sen. Joseph Brannigan, D-Portland; Rep. Jane Knapp, R-Gorham; and Rachel Talbot Ross, president of the NAACP’s Portland branch. Keschl has said that officials from the Council of Turkic American Associations were up front about their ties to Gulen when he questioned them directly.

The council is the regional affiliate of the Washington, D.C.-based Turkic American Alliance, the umbrella organization for the Gulen movement in the United States.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

North Dakota Lawmakers on free Trip to Turkey get more than they bargain for with Turkish demonstrators MORE GULEN BRIBES

North Dakota legislators get more than they bargained for

The Gulen lobbying force is working in overdrive, drumming up as many easily bought off American politicians as they can find for summer trips to Turkey. The latest pilgrims to make headlines are a group of seven freeloading legislators from North Dakota. Apparently, like the group from Michigan, this collection of political tourists got caught in the Turkish protests while riding a bus into the eye of the anti-government protests. But this time the protesters got a little more up close and personal with the Americans than their predecessors.

According to North Dakota Representative Corey Mock, the bus trip was a little like an amusement park roller coaster complete with sticks, mallets, rocks – and of course threatening protesters. The protesters attacked the bus, rocking it while trying to pry open the windows. I suspect that this wet your pants change in the itinerary might have given the politicians time to pause about their decision to sign up for a trip on the Gulen express.

One politician on the bus, Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks), was quoted as saying, “As the bus pulled away, there was nothing but disbelief.” I get the “disbelief” component – but on my end its disbelief on how incredibly naïve and shameful these political parasites are. Instead of merely planting their butts on a bus tour sponsored by Gulen, they might done a bit of pre-trip research on Gulen’s cult, its insidious movement, and how their tourist trip plays perfectly into Gulen’s master plan to further corrupt the American government by proxy of its campaign contributions and “free trips to Turkey.”

The bus rock and rollers on the trip were Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks), Rep. Ben Hanson (D-West Fargo), Rep. Lawrence Klemin (R-Bismarck), Rep. Lois Delmore (D-Grand Forks), Sen. Phil Murphy (D-Portland), Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks), and Sen. David O’Connell (D-Lansford). That’s an awful lot of state politicians on a bus tour in Turkey -- politicians who should have instead been in their offices in North Dakota doing the jobs that their constituents were paying them to do. I wonder how thrilled the taxpayers in North Dakota would be if they knew that the politicians that they voted for were too busy indulging in Gulen-related propaganda in Turkey to actually perform their North Dakota legislative duties.

It get’s more than tiresome to hear about how American politicians have this deep-rooted desire to establish “friendly” relations with Turkey by means of free trips, sponsored by Gulen’s cronies. I wonder why they feel the need to visit Turkey -- why not take a few trips to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, or North Korea --- where there just might be a more compelling case for “friendship?” While these guys and gals are stuffing their faces with free baklava in Turkey, there are certainly more relevant and exponential world issues that more directly affect their constituents at home – like American soldiers coming home from the Middle East missing both limbs and livelihoods.

Call me old fashioned, but I am of the mind that you take care of your own before you spread your resources and goodwill to causes (and in this specific case, the Gulenists), that are only out to exploit and manipulate the United States’ taxpayers. How many rocking buses pelted with sticks and stones do the American politicians needs to experience before the finally figure out that they are being played like a keman, and that the Gulenists are the ones fine-tuning the politicians' strings.

Below are a couple of stories about the North Dakota legislators’ trip to Turkey:

North Dakota Legislative Trip Paid For By Controversial Islamic Group

Written By:
Rob Port

Jun 24, 2013

I recently wrote a post about a trip to Turkey taken by a number of North Dakota legislators paid for by a group called the Turkish American Federation of the Midwest. In speaking with some legislators who didn’t take they trip, they told me that it was organized through what some described as an odd email that many thought was a scam. I decided to dig into the matter a little further, and I found some disturbing facts.

The TAFM, it turns out, is a front group for the Gülen movement, a “transnational religious and social movement led by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.” It’s an Islamic network and has gained some praise as being a more moderate alternative to other global Muslim groups, but has also been criticized for encouraging members to turn away from society to practice a fundamentalist sort of Islam.

In fact, the group has been described as a cult in leaked US diplomatic cables: “When we asked Valeria Heuberger, an Austrian expert on Islam, if the Gulenists have a hidden agenda, she replied, ‘Yes, they do have a hidden agenda, but I don’t think it is a radical agenda. Their agenda is simply to further the ego of their leader, the same as any cult.’”

It has also been criticized for its attitudes toward women, enforcing gender segregation within the group and with many of its members wearing clothing that doesn’t not expose any part of a woman’s arms or legs.

The group is “feared” in Turkey, according to some. “You know we have confronted real fear about this movement, particularly when we’ve tried to get critics to give us an interview,” CBS News’ Leslie Stahl asked America reporter Andrew Finkel, who has been working in Turkey for 25 years, in a 2012 interview about the movement’s charter schools in the US. “What are they afraid of?”

“There’s a fear of reprisal,” he answered. “I mean, it is the case that two or three people who’ve written books highly critical of the Gulen movement are now in jail.”

Finkel also described the Gülen movement as a “cult of personality.”

The group’s founder, Fethullah Gülen, currently lives in the United States rather than Turkey because “if he were to come back, then there would be such a brouhaha,” according to Finkel, “because it seems his followers have taken over key positions in the Turkish government and the police.”

Here in the United States, Gülen has been very active in setting up networks of groups to support his movement:

The 2008 RAND report explained that a “web of organizations propagates Gulen’s vision of Islam.” This web is an enormous and expanding global network which includes over 300 organizations in the United States. It takes an informed eye to detect their connection to the Gulen movement. Gulen’s followers began to establish their organizations in the US around the time Fethullah Gulen arrived in Pennsylvania. Now fourteen years later, approximately 180 Gulenist Turkish cultural, interfaith dialogue, and business organizations are operating in nearly every state and 135 charter schools are operating in 26 states

One of the groups established was the TAFM, which paid the way for the North Dakota legislators who visited Turkey. Which has me wondering, how many of those legislators knew who was really backing their trip? Were they aware of their sponsor;s connections to the controversial Gülen movement? To be fair, the Gülenists are also praised by many for being a relatively moderate Islamic group which does a lot to promote education.

But the group also faces serious accusations about attempts to undermine secular government in Turkey, and using some very thuggish tactics to do it.

Did these legislators even care about who was paying their way to Turkey, or did they just jump at the opportunity for a free trip regardless of who paid for it? And what is the Gülen movement’s interest in flying a bunch of North Dakota legislators to Turkey, anyway?

I don’t think we can accuse any of these legislators of being a part of some plot by a shadowy Islamic group. A simpler explanation is that they were merely dupes. At best, these legislators who accepted the invitation for this trip exercised some poor judgment. At worst, they were used by a not-so-democratic, cult-like group to help bolster their image and reputation as they seek to cement political control in Turkey.

The legislators who went on the trip were Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks), Rep. Ben Hanson (D-West Fargo), Rep. Lawrence Klemin (R-Bismarck), Rep. Lois Delmore (D-Grand Forks), Sen. Phil Murphy (D-Portland), Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks), and Sen. David O’Connell (D-Lansford).

Perhaps they owe North Dakota voters an explanation for just what they were doing in Turkey.

Tags: ben hanson, corey mock, david o'connell, Fethullah Gülen, gulen movement, lawrence klemin, lois delmore, North Dakota News, phil murphy, ray holmberg, Turkish American Federation of the Midwest

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

Email Rob@robport ND Legislators Experience Protests In Turkey by Lezlie Johnson, Reporter
June 13, 2013

A goodwill trip turned into something more than a group of North Dakota legislators bargained for,
landing smack dab in the middle of a massive anti–government protest in Turkey.

Officers fire water cannons and tear gas into a crowd of demonstrators.

Over a 3–day period of an increasingly raging protest, 7 North Dakota lawmakers experienced some of the violence first–hand, starting in Istanbul.

"As we turned the corner we had seen water cannons pushing people out of the park, people were being sprayed before our very eyes," Representative Corey Mock said.

As the protest progressed, Mock took photos and video of his experience.

Although the protest started out peaceful, when the group traveled to Izmir, their trip, which was aimed to develop deeper relationships between countries, now became increasingly stressful.

"When our bus had pulled into the intersection and we had seen over 1–thousand people waving flags,
chanting, protesting, swarming vehicles, that's when the anxiety went to a new level," Mock said.

As protesters took over the bus in front of the group, they realized just how serious this could get, especially once protesters started moving towards their own bus.

"There were some who were a little more aggressive in their actions, the bus was rocked, hit, they had mallets and sticks.

So there was a lot of unique reaction from the protesters geared toward traffic on the streets," Mock said.

Mock says although the protesters were not anti–American, there were moments of uncertainty as they tried to flip the bus.

"There were some gasps. Startling reactions especially as the bus rocked from side to side,
people were trying to climb into the bus, pry open the windows, so that whole feeling of everyone crowding in towards the middle,
it happened pretty quickly" Mock said.

No one was hurt, and the whole experience lasted about one minute because of the bus driver's quick reaction.

As the bus pulled away, there was nothing but disbelief.

"A lot of looks around the bus of astonishment, like wow did that just happen and wondering,
I wonder what's happening to the people behind us and then I hope this isn't going to happen again," Mock said.

Now Mock holds a flag he brought back from Turkey just like the ones protesters were waving,
and says it will be an everyday reminder of what the group experienced overseas.


12 Tennessee Lawmakers get free trips to Turkey and Azerbaijan by Gulen Movement

by Phil Williams
Chief Investigative Reporter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Who's providing free foreign trips to state lawmakers -- and what do they want?

A group of Tennessee legislators will soon be packing their bags and heading overseas for what most Tennesseans would consider an exotic trip.

But those lawmakers will not be picking up the tab -- and few seemed to know anything about the group that is.

In the waning days of this year's legislative session, lawmakers debated whether proposed changes to the state's campaign finance laws would open the door to foreign influence.

"If you want to know who contributes to my campaign, it's as easy as the click of the mouse," said Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, a Smith County Republican.

Still, what you won't find online -- and what Weaver did not mention -- is that, in late May, a select group of state lawmakers will be jetting off for a 12-day, all-expenses paid trip, landing first in Azerbaijan, then heading a few days later to nearby Turkey.

The invitations came from a group called the Turkish American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast -- with the money coming from a sister group called the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians.

Both groups have ties to a movement headed by a moderate Muslim imam named Fethullah Gulen.

"You have accepted the invitation to go on the trip?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Rep. Mark White.

"I would like to look into going on that, yes," the Memphis Republican answered.

"Why is that?"

"Because it's an educational experience."

White is one of the nine lawmakers who have accepted the invitation to go on the trip.

Others, according to a list provided to NewsChannel 5, are: Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville; Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown; Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah; Rep. Roger Kane, R-Knoxville; Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis; Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis; Rep. Johnnie Turner, D-Memphis; and Terri Lynn Weaver.

Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons has also agreed to go, as has his assistant commissioner David Purkey.

"Does it matter to you who is paying for this trip?" we asked White.

"Yeah, we'll find that out," he answered on the last day of the legislative session. "Like I say, I just have not had a chance to -- we've been so busy in session -- just haven't had a chance to look into that yet."

Fethullah Gulen has generally drawn praise for his moderate religious views and his message of tolerance.

Time Magazine just named him to its lists of the 100 most influential people in the world.

But a U.S. State Department cable published by Wikileaks describes his movement as being one that "officially professes to be interested in ecumenical understanding, but whose roots are intensely Islamic."

As 60 Minutes reported last year, the movement is also behind a secular network of science and math charter schools that began in Turkey and has now spread to the U.S.

One of those is in Memphis.

In fact, our NewsChannel 5 investigation discovered that the president of the Turkish American Chamber, Ayhan Korucu, is also the president of a Gulen school, the Fulton Science Academy, in Atlanta.

And the president of the Turquoise Council, Kemal Oksuz, is -- according to the New York Times -- a principal in a company that has built Gulen schools in the U.S. Oksuz also has served as chairman of the Gulen Institute and was interviewed for a PBS story on the imam.

The trip comes at a time that some lawmakers, like White, are pushing legislation to make it easier for charter schools to get approval to open across the state.

"You're telling me something that I haven't heard before," White said.

"Should you have asked who was providing the funding before you accepted?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.

"Well," the lawmaker answered, "it's been done for so many years I didn't see any problem with it."

House Education Committee Chairman Harry Brooks, a Knoxville Republican who has been helping to coordinate the upcoming trip, keeps in his office mementos from both Azerbaijan and Turkey from a trip he accepted last year.

Brooks said that there were five Tennessee lawmakers on that trip.

Other lawmakers, according to Brooks, were: Sen. Reginald Tate, D-Memphis; Rep. Joe Armstrong, R-Knoxville; Rep. Josh Evans, R-Greenbrier; and Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville.

It was trip that Brooks described as part economic development, part goodwill.

"What we gain is, one, an understanding of a society that wants to be a friend to this country," he added.

But Brooks insisted that charter schools were never discussed.

"That has never been an item of discussion," he said.

And Tennessee isn't alone in getting attention from the Turkish groups.

Some lawmakers have reportedly had second thoughts about such trips in Texas, where there's a whole chain of Gulen schools.

But even if the ultimate goal is to curry favor with lawmakers, Brooks still doesn't see a problem.

"If you're a legislator in the state of Tennessee and if you don't have the courage to vote your conviction -- whether someone has given you a donation or not -- you don't need to be down here -- simple fact," he said.

One of those invitees, Rep. Johnnie Turner, insisted that she is a staunch charter school opponent.

Under Tennessee law, if the hosts had hired lobbyists, these trips would be illegal.

But, as is, they are entirely legal -- and no one has to disclose them to the public.

Late Monday, NewsChannel 5 Investigates heard from Kemal Oksuz -- and he put the cost at close to $4,000 a person. He said lawmakers from several states were being invited.

Still, Oksuz insisted the goal is about establishing opportunities for partnerships, not about charter schools.


Tenn. lawmakers encounter Turkish protesters

June 9th, 2013 5:40 pm by Tom Humphrey, Knoxville News Sentinel
Stacey Campfield
NASHVILLE — Tennessee state legislators found themselves in the middle of Turkish protesters at one point during a 10-day tour of Turkey and Azerbaijan that ended last week, according to state Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville.
“They were really a lot like the Occupy Wall Street crowd, or Occupy Nashville,” said Campfield, adding that he had talked with several of the protesters, who were in a peaceful mode when encountered by the Tennesseans in Istanbul.
“They had the same type of arguments” in complaints about capitalism, interrelated with what the protestors saw as unwarranted development of a city park, said Campfield, one of several legislators making the trip sponsored by the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast.
The Knoxville News Sentinel has the rest of the story. - See more at:

Gulen Movement investing in US Politicians

Investing in US Politicians

Last updated Nov 5, 2013
This page is incomplete; more entries will be added.

On June 4, 2010, a Wall Street Journal article about Fethullah Gulen stated: "An English-language Turkish newspaper reported that Mr. Gulen has told his followers they couldn't visit him on his Poconos estate if they didn't first donate to their local congressman. Mr. Gulen denies making the remark." Despite Mr. Gulen's denials, Gulenist individuals do indeed make a remarkable number of political contributions. A sampling is given below. See this page specifically for Texas.

Notes: table may be wider than your browser page, so scroll to right to view all columns. Numbers in parenthesis are negative. Do not assume that seemingly duplicate entries are errors; on some occasions Gulenists have made two contributions of the same amount to the same candidate on the same day. This list includes both federal and state elections

Total of the above so far
(and this is far from complete - expect updates shortly)

Maine Legislatures visit Turkey but Gulen proposed charter school is denied

Turkish Cultural Center of Maine in collaboration with the Council of Turkic American Associations organized an intercultural trip to Turkey for State Legislators from Maine.
Maine State Senator Roger Katz, State Representatives Karen Kusiak, and Dennis Lee Keschl were in Turkey for an unofficial visit. During their trip to Turkey, they visited Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Trabzon. Their trip to Trabzon had a special meaning since KARGID (Association of Turkish Businessmen of the Black Sea) personally invited the State legislators.
As Senator Katz pointed out, the main purpose of the trip was to develop economic, educational, and cultural relations between Turkey and the US. Throughout their trip, they had a chance to visit various economic and educational institutions that specialize in Turkey-US relations. Sen. Katz pointed out that Turkey and the US have close relations with each other because of the mutual history and by having these kind of trips they are taking those relations to another higher level. Due to their mutual history, Sen. Katz pointed out that Turkey and the US have close relations with each other; therefore, by having these kinds of trips, they take those relations to a higher level