Corrupt Politicians and Tools of the Gulen Movement

Corrupt Politicians and Tools of the Gulen Movement
Disclaimer: if some videos are disabled this is the work of the Gulen censorship which has filed fake copyright infringement complaints to UTUBE.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Are some U.S. charter schools helping fund Fethullah Gulen's movement?

As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travels to Turkey on Thursday, he’ll want to talk about the fight against ISIS. But the Turks want to talk about a controversial Turkish religious scholar: Fethullah Gulen.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan accuses Gulen of being behind a bloody coup attempt in the country last July. Gulen, who lives in the United States, denies he was involved. Now the Turkish government is also lobbying the Trump administration to extradite Gulen back to Turkey.

In this March 15, 2014 photo, Turkish Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pa.  AP PHOTO/SELAHATTIN SEVI
Over the past two decades, Gulen’s Turkish followers have opened up taxpayer-funded charter schools in the U.S. Some parents have expressed concern about the connection to the Gulen movement, while others don’t seem to mind. But CBS News has learned the FBI is investigating whether Gulen’s followers have skimmed money from those schools in order to fund his movement in Turkey. A senior State Department official believes Gulen-linked charities and educational institutions in the U.S. look “a lot like the ways in which organized crime sets itself up... to hide money for money laundering.”

During the violent coup attempt that shook Turkey last July, hundreds were killed as rogue military tanks rolled into the streets of Istanbul. But Gulen, who the Turkish government blames for inciting it, has lived in a Pennsylvania compound for 16 years.

Who is Fethullah Gulen?
Gulen’s followers run publicly-funded science and math-focus charter schools in the United States. By our count, they’ve opened 136 charter schools in 28 states, operating on more than $2.1 billion taxpayer dollars since 2010.

But former teachers at those schools have told CBS News there is a scheme by Gulen’s followers in the U.S. to take advantage of the American charter school system and fund Gulen’s movement.

Ersin Konkur was once a follower of Gulen. He worked as a math teacher at schools founded by Gulen supporters in New York and Texas. But he said school officials made a special demand of the Turkish teachers who worked there: a kick-back from their taxpayer-funded salary.

“They’d force you to give some of that money back to them?” CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan asked.

“Yes,” Konkur responded.

“Were you writing checks?”

“They were asking cash. But in my last two years, I paid some of them in check,” Konkur said, adding that he’s paid “maybe a lot more than $20,000” in total to the movement.

Mustafa Emanet (left) and Ersin Konkur CBS NEWS
Mustafa Emanet was an IT administrator at a Gulen-inspired charter school in Ohio.

“How much money do you think you gave?” Brennan asked him.

“I was paying around 40 percent of my salary,” Emanet said.

Based on information provided by Emanet, federal investigators believe former officials at his Ohio school illegally paid themselves about $5 million in federal contracts and then sent those U.S. tax dollars to Bank Asya, a bank in Turkey linked to Gulen’s followers.

The school says it is cooperating with the probe.

“They’re a threat to our relationship with Turkey and thus to the stability of the Middle East,” former U.S. ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey said.

Jeffrey told CBS News that Gulen’s followers are a powerful force in Turkey, with public good works, but more private political aims.

“We need to investigate this movement again first and foremost for what it has attempted to do in Turkey. Secondly, what it is trying to do here in the United States and what laws it may be breaking in the process of doing so,” Jeffrey said.

Alp Aslandogan CBS NEWS
Gulen repeatedly declined to speak with us, but we spoke with his closest adviser, Alp Aslandogan.

“If there’s a proven charge that somebody illegally channeled money from public funds into some private purposes, he will be first to condemn it,” Aslandogan said.

“The Turkish teachers said that they were then forced to hand over part of their salary back to the movement,” Brennan responded.

“Yeah, forced donations is absolutely unethical. … It is disgusting. I would be first to condemn something like that,” Aslandogan said.

The charter schools that employed Turkish teachers Konkur and Emanet strongly deny any official links to Gulen himself, but we found nearly all Gulen schools have ties to a network of non-profits, many of which lead back to Gulen or his top associates.

Court records related to Gulen’s immigration to the U.S. show that his lawyers said he had “overseen the establishment of a conglomeration of schools... [including in]... the United States.”

“What do you think they’re really trying to do?” Brennan asked Emanet.

“They try to gain more power. And they want to make more money. And then after that, they use the money to gain more power,” Emanet said.

Konkur’s former employers deny his allegations, call him a disgruntled former employee, and accuse him – without providing evidence – of being an agent of the Turkish government. He denies that, although he has given testimony to a U.S. lawyer hired by the government of Turkey.

Last week, Turkey’s foreign minister said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions assured him that he’d carefully examine the Turkish request for Gulen’s extradition.

The AFT, Education, Common Core, Privatization, GreenDot/Concept Gulen Charters
by Labor Video Project
Friday Aug 8th, 2014 2:34 PM
The national AFT had a booth at the 2013 Netroots convention in San Jose in June. Shaun Richman who is the AFT deputy director of organizing talked about their support for good charters including the "Green Dot" charter which he claimed was a non-profit operation.

The AFT, Education, Common Core, Privatization, GreenDot/Concept Gulen Charters
During the June 2013 conference of Netroots in San Jose, the AFT set up a booth on privatization, high stakes testing and reform in the schools. The AFT is supporting the Common Core but says that it is not being rolled out properly. The issue of re-segregationa of the schools is also discussed along with the the privatization of education through testing by Pearson Inc., K-12 corporation and other companies. The union is seeking to make a "cleavage" of the school reform movement. The issue of organizing in the charter schools is also discussed and what challenges the union faces including union busting by
the largest national charter chain run by Concept Schools which is connected with the Fethullah Gulen movement in Turkey. Gulen is connected to the police including repression of journalists and runs some of the largest newspaper in Turkey along with supporting privatization and theocratic policies in Turkey's schools.
The AFT also differentiated the for profit GreenDot chain of schools with the Gulen schools arguing that they were very different particularly because they allowed unionization of the schools and allowed the teachers to have discussion with the management about curriculum. An AFT representative agreed to provide an audio interview on issues in education.
For more video go to:
Production of Labor Video Project
§Weingarten Pushes Greendot Schools
by Labor Video Project Friday Aug 8th, 2014 2:34 PM

AFT president Randi Weingarten is a big proponent of good charter schools like Greendot.

Charters, Gulen And Education Privatization With Sharon Higgins
Sharon Higgins is an expert on charters, privatization and the Gulen cult charter school chain. She talks about charters and their links to privatization at a presentation she made in San Francisco on March 12, 2016. She also discusses the decision of the Anaheim Union High School District to call for a moratorium on further charter schools in the district and statewide.
For more information:
http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot .com
Production of Labor Video Project

Gulen Cult Film 'Love Is A Verb' Protested in Berkeley-STOP Public Funding To Gulen Schools And All Charters NOW!
A protest was held at the Berkeley screening of the film "Love Is A Verb" on February 11, 2016. The film which was screened by the Fedullah Gulen controlled Pacifica Institute is a propaganda film supporting the religious Gulen movement. Fedullah Gulen runs one of the largest chain of charter schools in the US.
Using the privatization of education through the use of publicly funded and privately run charter schools this cult has received hundreds of millions of public funds on their national chain of charter schools. They use the schools to recruit students to their cults through free trips to Turkey.
For more information and media:
Additional Video:
Production of Labor Video Project

FBI raids Gulen Concept Schools in Illinois, 2 other states-Corrupt Gulen Cult Charter Schools Stealing Public Money Through Privatization

Salim Ucan, vice president of Concept Schools, speaks during the opening general session of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools conference in December in Chicago. | Michael R. Schmidt/Sun-Times Media
FBI raids Concept Schools in Illinois, 2 other states
TUE, 06/10/2014 - 5:57PM
The FBI and two other federal agencies conducted raids in Illinois and two other states at charter schools run by Des Plaines-based Concept Schools, FBI officials said Tuesday.

Search warrants were executed at 19 Concept schools in connection with an “ongoing white-collar crime matter,” said Vicki Anderson, a special agent in the Cleveland FBI office that’s leading the probe.

The U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Communications Commission also were involved in the June 4 raids, but officials said the warrants remain under seal, and they wouldn’t give any details about the investigation.

The raids targeted Concept schools in Illinois — where Concept has three schools in Chicago and one in Peoria — as well as in Indiana and Ohio.

A Concept spokesman said federal education officials had conducted an audit recently.

But the FBI’s Anderson said, “What we did was not part of any audit.”

CPS says no to Concept Schools, but state commission says yes

Landlords for Concept Schools have ties to Emanuel

Concept was founded by Turkish immigrants and has ties to Turkish-American groups that have hosted Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and other state lawmakers on trips to their homeland in recent years, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in December. In 2012, Madigan visited Concept’s Chicago Math and Science Academy at 7212 N. Clark St., and praised the school in a video posted on YouTube.

After its efforts last year to open two new taxpayer-funded charter schools in Chicago were rejected by Chicago Public Schools officials, Concept appealed to the Illinois State Charter School Commission, which overrode CPS and allowed Concept to open Horizon Science Academy McKinley Park at 2845 W. Pershing Rd. and Horizon Science Academy Belmont at 5035 W. North Ave.

CPS officials were more receptive to Concept earlier this year, approving what will be the chain’s fourth and fifth schools in Chicago, in Chatham and South Chicago.

US CIA Supported Turkish Pro-Islamist  Iman Fethullah Gulen's Newspaper Aman Now Critical Of Erdogan Tactics
June 12, 2013
Turkish Police and Protesters Clash in Istanbul’s Taksim Square
ISTANBUL — Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered his interior minister on Wednesday to end all antigovernment protests within 24 hours, as thousands of protesters returned to Taksim Square after riot police officers dispersed crowds overnight with tear gas and water cannons.

At a meeting in Ankara with representatives of the Confederation of Turkish Tradesmen and Craftsmen, a labor union, Mr. Erdogan dismissed international criticism of his handling of the protests and claimed that Turkish intelligence knew three months ago about local and foreign efforts to inflict chaos in Turkey, according to a union official who attended the meeting and who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“There are people who claim this is the Turkish Spring, but what they do not see is that Turkey has been living through its spring since 2002,” said Mr. Erdogan, referring to the year his Justice and Development Party won a majority of seats in Parliament.

“By tomorrow at the latest, the Gezi Park incident will end,” he continued. “This is a public park, not an area of occupation.”

For nearly two weeks, the prime minister has remained largely defiant, demanding that protesters leave the square, placing armed police officers on standby to sweep the area and insisting that the demonstrations were nothing like the Arab Spring protests, which ousted entrenched leaders across the Middle East and northern Africa. But as homemade firebombs and tear gas wafted through the city center, it seemed that Mr. Erdogan and his supporters had miscalculated the opposition’s tenacity and conviction.

“Thugs! Thugs!” a protester shouted at the police as she was shrouded in a cloud of tear gas. “Let God bring the end of you!”

The demonstrations began over a plan to tear out the last significant green space in the center of the city, Gezi Park in Taksim Square, and to replace it with a mall designed like an Ottoman-era barracks. Mr. Erdogan, who once advised the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to negotiate and compromise, sent the police to clear the park.

The tactic backfired, leading to large protests and expressions of frustration at Mr. Erdogan’s rising authoritarian streak. Environmentalists and conservationists were joined in the protest by radical leftists and street hooligans. Mr. Erdogan pulled the police back, but for days Taksim has been a sprawling hub of grievance against him and his party.

On Monday, he offered to talk on Wednesday — but then he sent the police back to clear out the protesters. By Wednesday morning, the operation had succeeded, but anger over Mr. Erdogan’s handling of the protests had not abated.

In Taksim Square, the police cleared out most of the barricades set up by protesters on streets that surround the park, while anti-riot police and their armored vehicles stood guard around the old opera house, which was stripped of political banners and posters that had been decorating its facade for more than 10 days.

A smaller group of police officers circled the Republic monument in the heart of the square, preventing groups from putting their banners on a statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

The medical aid tent inside the park had to be moved after the police fired tear gas in and around it, injuring the medical workers and protesters.

On Wednesday, the Bianet news site reported that Ethem Sarisuluk, a protester who was reported to have been struck on the head by a plastic bullet on June 1, was brain dead. Two other protesters and a police officer have been killed, while at least 4,947 have been injured in the violence.

Thousands of black-robed lawyers left courthouses around the country on Wednesday to protest the behavior of the police, television images showed.

After the meeting with the labor union, Mr. Erdogan met separately with a group of 11 people, including academics, artists and students, in Ankara. Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group of protest organizers that had been excluded, said the meeting with the smaller group was an effort to mislead Turkish public opinion and would not produce anything while police violence continued.

The smoldering violence represents Mr. Erdogan’s worst political crisis since coming to power a decade ago. It also highlights the kind of class politics that have divided society, with his conservative religious followers strongly supporting his position. But his political base — a majority — has not protected the economy, which is suffering as the currency loses value and the cost of borrowing rises.

Analysts now worry that Mr. Erdogan, instead of finding a way out of the crisis, has only made it worse by hardening divisions among his constituents, and by digging in.

“The leaders may be searching for a way out of the deadlock,” Melih Asik, a columnist, wrote in Milliyet, a centrist newspaper. “However, has inciting one half of the people against the other half ever been a remedy for overcoming such a crisis? If limitless anger does not give way to common sense, Turkey will have a very difficult job ahead.”

Mr. Erdogan, in rally after rally over the weekend, sought to energize the conservative masses who propelled him to power by invoking his personal history as an Islamist leader opposed to the old secular state and its undemocratic nature. His supporters represent a social class that was previously marginalized, and Mr. Erdogan has used his speeches to play on those class resentments.

“The potatohead bloke, itching his belly — this was how they regarded us for decades,” he said in a speech on Tuesday. “They think we do not know anything about politics, arts, theater, cinema, poetry, paintings, aesthetics, architecture.”

Though he was democratically elected, unlike the Arab leaders he has counseled, commentators say he appears to have appropriated several tactics of those ousted by popular uprisings. In addition to sending in the police, he has blamed foreigners for stoking the unrest — a refrain also heard in Cairo and Damascus, Syria.

“Those who attempt to sink the bourse, you will collapse,” Mr. Erdogan said at one of several speeches he gave on Sunday. “If we catch your speculation, we will choke you. No matter who you are, we will choke you.”

But there is a danger, analysts say, because even with a strong majority as his base, he is vulnerable if the crisis drags on. Several columnists for Zaman, a pro-Islamist newspaper linked to Fethullah Gulen, an important spiritual leader in Turkey who is exiled in the United States, have become critical of Mr. Erdogan’s intimidation of the news media and his pursuit of a powerful presidential system.

The White House called Tuesday for dialogue to resolve differences between the government, a close ally of the United States, and the protesters.

“We continue to follow events in Turkey with concern, and our interest remains supporting freedom of expression and assembly, including the right to peaceful protest,” a White House spokeswoman said in a statement.

Speaking in Paris on Wednesday, Egemen Bagis, Turkey’s chief negotiator with the European Union, said protesters in Taksim Square had a democratic right to protest. But he said that terrorists had infiltrated the square and that Turkey had a right to defend itself from violence and provocation.

“Those who resort to violence will be dealt with like they are in all democratic societies,” he said, arguing that the situation was analogous to allowing Al Qaeda to put banners or posters at the Statue of Liberty or Times Square.

Asked how it was that Mr. Erdogan had supported democracy movements in Egypt and Syria, yet appeared to be resorting to the kind of language used by some dictators, Mr. Bagis said such analogies were baseless.

“After the first night of demonstrations, people in Western media said the Turkish Spring had started,” he said. “I highly condemn that approach. Comparing what is happening in Turkey to Arab Spring is out of sight, out of logic. Turkey is a democracy. There is a campaign to tarnish a democratically elected government.”

Mr. Bagis blamed unspecified outside interests for seeking to undermine and destabilize Turkey and said that in due course, Mr. Erdogan would make public the names of those responsible. Attempts to label Mr. Erdogan as authoritarian are slanderous and unacceptable, he said.

He warned that those who tried to impede Turkey’s progress would not succeed. “I have bad news for them. They will not be able to stop us.”

When the day began it appeared that the government had a cautious strategy aimed at reining in the protests by clearing the square, but leaving the demonstrators in the park. A Twitter message from the provincial governor, Huseyin Avni Mutlu, said, “This morning you are in the safe hands of your police brothers.”

But there was so much distrust in the park that demonstrators began girding for an attack. Some scribbled their blood types on their arms in ink, in case they needed emergency care.

On Tuesday night, the police began firing tear gas in the park, where many demonstrators were as critical of the protest violence as of the police. “It started with throwing stones, but now the extremists are sinking to the level of the police by throwing fireworks and firebombs,” said Ece Yavuz, 36. “We will not participate in this violence.”

Saturday, February 25, 2017

By State what does all the Gulen trips to Turkey for over 151 state legislatures mean? USA Today weighs in

It means nothing now, the Gulen Movement cannot step foot into Turkey.
and politicians in America.
are running away from the Gulen Movement being associated with the Gulen Movement ruins political careers

More than 150 state legislators from places like Idaho and Texas accepted subsidized junkets from a Turkish opposition group that the country’s government now blames for an attempted coup.
State legislators who rarely get involved in foreign policy matters were courted with international trips.
The invitations came from a powerful religious movement that until recently ran media outlets and a bank before falling out with the government in Turkey, a pivotal U.S. ally that serves as the gateway to the Middle East. Though followers of the movement deny having supported the failed coup, Turkey has asked the United States to extradite its leader, Fethullah Gulen, a reclusive Islamic cleric who lives in a compound not in Ankara or Istanbul but in the woods of Pennsylvania.
The Center for Public Integrity documented the extent of the trips, which in some cases cost more than $7,000, and found that some state lawmakers who took them later introduced resolutions supporting Gulen’s controversial Hizmet movement. Some even have supported charter schools that are part of a network from the nation's capital to California of roughly 160 taxpayer-financed schools that friends of the movement run.
While some familiar with the lawmakers’ trips frame them as innocuous learning experiences, the trips are meant to transform American community leaders into Gulen sympathizers, according to Joshua Hendrick, a sociologist at Loyola University and a leading expert on the movement.
“It most certainly has the impact of cultivating influence,” Hendrick said. “It is a political effort but it is framed as a grassroots mobilization of dialogue.”
‘Sympathetic to the cause’
The long parade of state legislators who have accepted the heavily subsidized trips from the Gulen movement includes some influential figures. The man known as Illinois’ most powerful state politician, Democratic Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, traveled four times to Turkey on trips that nonprofit groups associated with Gulen’s Hizmet — or “service” — movement had sponsored.
In 2011, at least a 10th of Idaho’s state legislators toured the land of the Ottomans on the movement’s dime.

At least four Texas lawmakers who have served on legislative education committees went on the sponsored trips. The Lone Star state is home to the most Gulen-linked charter schools.
California has about a dozen of the schools, as do Florida and Ohio. Arizona, Illinois and Missouri also are among the states that have them.
In total, the Center for Public Integrity used lawmakers’ annual disclosures and news reports to identify 152 state legislators from 29 states who toured Turkey between 2006 and 2015 thanks to more than two dozen nonprofits associated with the Gulen movement.
Among those who went on the trips were lawmakers who had rarely traveled overseas. Many had little knowledge of Gulen or Turkish politics. Few of their states have trade connections to Turkey.
But state legislators represent the political farm team of leaders who may someday play in the big leagues of Congress or beyond.
Thom Tillis, for one, was first elected to the North Carolina statehouse in 2006 and went on a trip to Turkey with a Gulen-movement group in 2011. Fast forward: The Republican is now a U.S. senator serving on the powerful Armed Services Committee, which oversees members of the U.S. military stationed in Turkey.
State lawmakers also shape education policy and hold the purse strings on state budgets, which finance charter schools.
“It’s effective public relations,” said William Martin, a Rice University sociologist who went on two sponsored trips. “That can affect their schools. It can affect the things they would like to do.”
The schools have denied connections to Gulen, but experts and even some friends of the movement call the links obvious.

Individuals with long ties to the Gulen movement often have founded and run the charter schools, and the schools frequently hire Turkish teachers, sponsor their visas and move them among schools. Many were set up with the help of nonprofits tied to the movement.
Gulen supporters say the trips for lawmakers promoted intercultural dialogue, a key component of Gulen's teaching. The former imam preaches a unique brand of Islamic mysticism paired with Turkish nationalism and respect for modern science.
“We wanted to act as a kind of a bridge" between Americans and Turks, said Vice President Atilla Kahveci of the California-based Pacifica Institute, a Gulen-movement group that has organized lawmaker trips. “We didn't have any kind of, from our point of view, ulterior agenda, no matter how it seems from outside.”
But other experts think the trips have political motivations.
“It’s like any other lobbying or political operation,” said James Jeffrey, who served as ambassador to Turkey under President George W. Bush and is now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank. “They’re doing this to advance their cause.”
American sympathizers have stuck up for Gulen and his followers. Since 2011, state lawmakers in 23 states have introduced at least 54 resolutions honoring Turkey or Turkish Americans, some of which specifically praised Gulen or Gulen-movement organizations, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data from Quorum, a legislative tracking service.
The Illinois House of Representatives passed a resolution in 2011 recognizing Gulen for his “inspirational contributions to the promotion of global peace and understanding.” A Gulen-movement group called the Niagara Foundation sponsored at least 32 trips to Turkey for Illinois state lawmakers between 2008 and 2012, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
In Kansas, former state Rep. Tom Moxley, a Republican who went on a subsidized trip to Turkey in 2011, sponsored a resolution the following year that praised Turkey’s diversity and called for the creation of a Kansan-Turkish Friendship Network.
"I’m more sympathetic to the cause, the belief system of this group of Muslims, versus the ones that are in power in Turkey today,” he said. “We’re watching a dictator take over at a time when the American government can least afford to lose them as a friend.”
A movement centered in the Poconos
Fethullah Gulen, Turkey’s most wanted man, lives tucked in the green mountains of the Poconos, a Pennsylvania tourism spot better known for its honeymoon suites with heart-shaped tubs than as an incubator for international insurrection.
Gulen, now 75, began preaching in Turkey by the early 1960s and quickly drew followers to his messages of devotion to Islam paired with success in the modern world.

He moved to the United States in 1999, ostensibly for medical treatment, though he left just before the secularist regime ruling at the time accused him of threatening to overthrow the government. Gulen later obtained a U.S. green card on the grounds that he had special abilities in the field of education.
Gulen’s movement in Turkey continued to grow, aligning itself with the conservative AKP party that now rules the country.
His followers established dormitories and schools in Turkey and elsewhere, as well as a network of nonprofit groups and foundations including those in the United States that sponsor lawmakers’ trips, such as the Pacifica Institute and the American Turkish Friendship Association.
The nonprofits frequently share open allegiance to Gulen’s Hizmet movement, staff or other ties, according to Hendrick, the Loyola sociologist who mapped the connections among the groups. Hendrick calls their informal connections to each other and Gulen part of the movement’s “strategic ambiguity,” which makes it more difficult for outsiders to assess the movement’s size and power.
But tensions in Turkey flared in 2013, and the AKP blamed its former political allies for the attempted coup in July 2016.
Though Gulen and his followers have denied responsibility for the recent coup attempt, the Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has cracked down on the Gulen movement, arresting 40,000 people and firing more than 100,000 soldiers, teachers and civil servants. Erdogan also has moved to silence dissenters and jailed more than 100 journalists.
Today, Turkish leaders call Gulen a terrorist.
Turkey also has hired Amsterdam and Partners LLP, an international law firm that specializes in “political advocacy and cross-border disputes,” to pursue investigations into U.S. schools connected to the movement. The Turkish embassy did not return requests for comment.

Gulen was not available for an interview, according to the Alliance for Shared Values, a Gulen-movement umbrella group based in New York that handles his media requests.
“We hope that Americans see that he is a peaceful man who has been wrongly accused by an autocratic Turkish president,” said Chief Executive Mustafa Akpinar of the Rumi Forum, a Gulen-movement nonprofit based in the District of Columbia. “We are confident in the rule of law in the United States and expect due process for Turkey’s misguided extradition request.”
All this has put the United States in a tricky position. U.S. officials have offered to help Turkey investigate the attempted coup while simultaneously warning its ally to live up to “democratic principles” in dealing with suspects.
Though the U.S. has not formally said who was to blame for the coup, two U.S. ambassadors to the country, including current ambassador John Bass, have made the connection to Gulen. In an August television interview, Bass referenced “the apparent involvement of a large number” of Gulen’s followers in the attempted takeover.
Even if this is true, experts say Gulen himself and his American followers might not have been directly involved in the failed takeover.
In September, after Turkey asked the U.S. to extradite Gulen back to Turkey, the Obama administration promised to consider it but did not move quickly.
Where the new administration stands is not certain. Former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President Trump's national security adviser, has called Gulen shady and his schools a scam.
State Department spokeswoman Pooja Jhunjhunwala said the agency had no update on the issue.
Meanwhile, the Turkey trips for state legislators have dried up amid the current political upheaval.
Fact-finding mission or junket?
Some lawmakers are bewildered that the groups paying for their trips now are swept up in Turkey’s current political turmoil.
“I can’t imagine what they would have wanted out of the North Dakota state Legislature,” said Democrat Ben Hanson, a former North Dakota state representative who went on a Gulen-group sponsored trip in 2013 with six other lawmakers from his state. North Dakota does not allow charter schools and has few ties to the Middle East.

“It seemed like their group was trying to educate people and trying to bridge relations, and that seemed like a positive thing in and of itself,” he said.
The Center for Public Integrity attempted to contact legislators it identified as having gone on the trips. Of the 34 lawmakers willing to comment, most spoke of their trips positively.
Many said their trips were packed with educational information and meetings with Turkish businessmen or officials and were not pleasure tours. While some, like Moxley in Kansas, defended Gulen’s followers, others said they didn’t know what to make of recent events in Turkey.
“That’s above my pay grade,” said Roger Katz, a Republican in the Maine Senate who went on one of the trips.
Some said they had no idea the sponsors of the trips were even part of the Gulen movement. Many of the trips occurred before the movement became an enemy of the Turkish state.
“The people I was associated with were devout Muslims and, I thought, the nicest people,” said Harry Kennedy, a former Democratic state senator in Missouri who went to Turkey in 2008. “But we really didn’t talk much about international politics.”
Lawmakers who have gone on the trips also have praised the experience as a way to dispel myths about Muslims in a post-9/11 world.
But not every trip participant walked away with the same conclusions. New Mexico state Sen. George Munoz said he left his trip early.
“I thought it was interesting to see another culture and government, but there were some things that were deeply wrong," the Democrat said. "There’s a reason our country chose Christianity.”

Gulen-movement groups are not the only ones paying for foreign travel of state lawmakers who have no power over foreign affairs. The government of Taiwan has sponsored trips for state lawmakers, and various Jewish nonprofits have taken state legislators to Israel.
But the Gulen movement’s efforts are extensive. For years, Gulen’s followers have been making friends in the United States by offering receptions, awards dinners and the subsidized trips — and not just for state lawmakers.
A 2015 USA TODAY investigation found the Gulen movement organized 200 trips for members of Congress and their staff.
One Gulen-movement member estimated that more than 7,000 movement-sponsored trips for North Americans occurred between 2003 and 2010, at an estimated cost of $17.5 million. The trips included mayors, university professors, journalists and other community leaders from across the United States.
The Center for Public Integrity’s review of lawmakers’ disclosures show that the Gulen-movement groups shelled out $1,000 to $7,047 per trip.
Some lawmakers' spouses also came along for the subsidized journeys, which often included visits to major Turkish historical sites such as the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, a Greek Orthodox basilica that is now a museum; a cruise on the Bosporus, the strait in Istanbul that separates Europe from Asia; shopping; as well as tours of Gulen-linked institutions such as the daily newspaper Zaman or movement-run private schools.
Though some lawmakers paid for the cost of their flights to the country, Gulen-movement nonprofits that run on donations from Gulen’s followers frequently covered expenses such as hotels, meals and tours, experts said. In addition, Turkish followers of Gulen often donated money specifically for the trips and then hosted the travelers in their homes for dinners or joined them for tours.
While federal lawmakers’ trips are governed by strict rules and must be disclosed, state regulations and their interpretations vary. Many states that regulate lawmaker gifts and travel include exceptions for educational trips, and none ban subsidized travel for legislators outright, according to Ethan Wilson, an ethics expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
• Colorado bans gifts for lawmakers above $50, but the state’s ethics commission ruled that the Turkey trips fall under the definition of “fact-finding missions,” which are allowed.
• Some Kansas legislators reported their trips in financial disclosures, but at least two did not. They told the Center for Public Integrity that the state ethics commission told them it wasn’t required though the director of the commission said hotel stays worth more than $500 should be disclosed.
• North Dakota does not have any rules barring such trips, nor does it even require them to be disclosed.
Still, lawmakers should carefully scrutinize perks offered to them, said Mike Palmer, an ethics consultant who has worked on ethics codes for municipalities and government agencies. Certain groups like federal contracting officers have strict bans on gifts for good reason.
“There’s a balance there between receiving education and being lobbied,” Palmer said. “What one would ask is: ‘Why are they providing this? Why is this person taking me to lunch? What’s in it for them?’ ”
Education favors?
Several lawmakers who went on the trips said they never were asked for any kind of favors in exchange.
But critics of charter schools associated with the Gulen movement worry that the subsidized trips make influential friends for the movement’s burgeoning network of science and math academies in the U.S. — more than 160 in 26 states and the District of Columbia.
Sharon Higgins, a self-described “Gulen-watcher” who helped found Parents Across America to try to strengthen public schools, said she believes the trips are “brainwashing” the lawmakers and officials who go on them.

“A lot of times those people don’t know the dimension of the controversy surrounding the Gulen movement,” said the charter school critic who lives in California. “What concerns me is this one-sided presentation.”
Supporters of the movement often write off discomfort with Gulen-movement events or schools as Islamophobia. Gulen-linked charter schools generally are well regarded in education circles, and students at many of them consistently score well on standardized exams.
But they've also faced investigations in at least seven states because, among other things, of accusations that they favor Turkish nationals when hiring teachers and contractors and spend taxpayer dollars extravagantly to do so.
• In Georgia, one audit found schools bypassing bidding rules to make purchases from companies with ties to Gulen followers.
• In Louisiana, the state shuttered another Gulen-linked school amid allegations of attempted bribery.
• In Utah, a school was shut down for financial mismanagement.
The international law firm that the Turkish government hired to investigate the Gulen network, which has offices in London and the District of Columbia, already has filed formal complaints  alleging financial improprieties about charter schools in several states. Robert Amsterdam, the lead lawyer, said he believes previous investigations into the schools proved fruitless because of the movement's sway with local leaders.

“In reality, I can point you to lots of smoke, but no charges have been laid in the United States with respect to their activities,” Amsterdam said. “We think part of it is motivated by a huge effort by the Gulenists to influence political actors.”
Several lawmakers who went on trips to Turkey later supported Gulen-linked charter schools.
Former Maine state Rep. Dennis Keschl and his wife traveled to Turkey in both 2013 and 2014 with a Gulen-linked group, the Turkish Cultural Center Maine.
The Republican subsequently wrote letters of support to the state’s charter school oversight board for two schools that were applying to open in Maine and were said to have ties to Gulen. (Neither school was approved.)
He said a representative from the Turkish Cultural Center Maine asked him to support the schools.
“I’m a strong supporter of charter schools," Keschl said. “In almost all of their charter schools they’ve established in the country, with a few exceptions, their students really are top students."
Discord in Texas
Perhaps no state has seen the depths of this controversy more than Texas. The state is home to more than 40 charter schools with reported ties to the movement.
The Center for Public Integrity identified 10 state legislators who accepted subsidized trips to Turkey from Gulen-related groups, including Democratic state Rep. Alma Allen. She has served as the vice chairwoman of the House’s Public Education Committee and on the advisory board of Harmony Schools, a chain of the Gulen-linked charter schools that has sites in her Houston district.

Allen did not respond to requests for comment.
Gulen supporters founded the Harmony charter schools, experts and observers say, and like other Gulen schools they hire an unusual number of Turkish teachers and contractors.
Harmony spokeswoman Peggy England denied any connection to Gulen, saying 6% of its staff are on skilled-worker H-1B visas and that it follows federal and state contracting laws.
“We have absolutely no relationship with any religious or social or political movements or organizations. Period,” she said. "Our books are open and transparent."
Likewise, the Texas Charter Schools Association, which represents Harmony, denied the schools have any direct ties to the cleric at the heart of the movement.
“We are not aware that he is a charter operator within the state," said Christine Isett, the trade group’s director of communications. “Our experience is that Harmony public schools produce great results with kids and great outcomes. Oftentimes the kids that graduate from Harmony are the first in their families to go to college.”
Yet such denials baffle friends of the movement.
"When I went to Turkey, I was shown these schools, and they said, 'We have schools in Texas,' " said Martin, the Rice professor.
He said he urges his Gulen-movement friends to be open about their connection with the charter schools.
"You don’t have an organizational tie. I can accept that," Martin said. "But to say you don’t have a tie hurts your credibility because people know there is a connection here."

The Gulen-connected trips for lawmakers are allowed in Texas. The state technically banned lawmakers from traveling for pleasure at others’ expense decades ago, but it allows “fact-finding trips.”
Still, Texas politicians in 2011 expressed reluctance to go on the trips after The New York Times documented financial improprieties at Gulen-linked schools there and bloggers accused the schools of promoting Islam. (Gulen-movement schools frequently teach the Turkish language but the Center for Public Integrity found no evidence they teach religion.)
"It would look like a junket," now-deceased Texas state Rep. Ken Legler, a Republican, told the Austin American-Statesman at the time. "I'm just worried about how it looks."
Then in 2012, a conservative group lobbied for Texas to require charter school operators to be American citizens. A modified version requiring a majority of board members to be U.S. citizens eventually became law there, which England said did not affect Harmony schools because they were in compliance before and after it passed.
During a hearing about the bill, Allen came to the defense of the Harmony chain of schools linked to the Hizmet movement. As shown in the anti-Gulen documentary Killing Ed, she specifically cited her trips to Turkey, at least one of which was sponsored by a Gulen-movement nonprofit.
“Wonderful Turkey — I’ve been there twice,” she said. “It’s beautiful. You should go.”
Contributing: David Jordan, The Center for Public Integrity. The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative media organization in the nation's capital. Read more of its investigations on the influence of money in politics or follow it on Twitter: @Publici.

Illinois House Resolution 0173

Then-Rep. Susana Mendoza, a Chicago Democrat who is now Illinois state comptroller, filed the above resolution commending Fethullah Gulen on March 9, 2011, in the Illinois House, and it was adopted the next day. She took at least one subsidized trip to Turkey.
► New Jersey: Who is Fethullah Gulen?

Ohio News About Gulen

Tennessee news about Gulen trips

Texas News about Gulen trips

Missouri trips