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.
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.