Elections

Followers Of A Mysterious Turkish Islamic Cleric Have Donated Heavily To Hillary’s Campaign And Family Charity

Another national finance co-chair of the pro-Clinton Ready PAC is Gokhan Ozkok. A founding board member of the Turkish Cultural Center, Ozkok is listed on that organization’s website as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. He’s also donated between $25,001 and $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

In addition, Ozkok, who is listed on campaign finance records as working for Gulen charter school companies like Sema Education and Apple Education Services, contributed $10,000 to Ready PAC last year and $1,500 Hill PAC in 2008. He’s given $2,700 to her formal campaign this year, and gave $5,525 to other Clinton PACs and to her presidential campaign from 2006 to 2008, records show.

A number of officials from other charities in the Gulen network such as the Turkic American Business Network, Istanbul Center, Rumi Forum, the Turkish American Business Council, the Peace Islands Institue, and the Turkic American Alliance have also donated to Clinton’s campaigns and PACs.

Altan Kalayci, the president of the Istanbul Center, which is also known as the Global Spectrum Foundation, gave $17,000 to Ready PAC in 2014, a contribution which also won him the designation of a national finance co-chair for the committee. As USA Today found in its investigation of the congressional trips, the Istanbul Center sponsored a nine-day visit to Turkey for Alabama Rep. [crscore]Mo Brooks[/crscore], his wife and four staffers which was secretly funded by a Turkey-based organization tied to Gulen.

Ercan Keskin, a board member of the Rumi Forum and the Turkish American Business Council, donated the federal maximum of $2,700 to Clinton’s formal campaign in April 2015. He gave $1,000 to her 2008 presidential campaign.

Fazli Celik, the chairman of the Rumi Forum, also gave Clinton $2,700 in April and $1,000 to her last White House bid. Zafer Akin, an attorney and president of the Peace Islands Institute, another Gulenist outfit, also gave $2,700 to Clinton’s campaign in April.

Talha Sarac, who chairs the Gulen-linked Turkish American Business Network, gave the maximum $2,700 to Clinton’s campaign on April 29, 2015, the same day that many other Gulenists gave to the Democrat’s cause. Another group executive, Emin Halac, donated the same amount to the Clinton campaign that day. Mahmut Yeter, a member of the Turkish American Business Network and former executive director of the Turkic American Associations, gave $5,050 in 2008 cycle.

Another Clinton donor operating in the Gulen network is Burak Yeneroglu, a businessman who is closely affiliated with the Turkic American Alliance. (RELATED: Major Hillary Donor Conducted Review Of Erroneous Clinton Foundation Tax Returns)

Records show that he gave the Clinton campaign $2,700 in April and donated $12,500 to her PAC last year. In 2008, he gave $5,000 to Hill PAC, the political action committee set up for Clinton in 2008.

Yeneroglu is also named in the House Office of Congressional Ethics report on trips to Turkey provided to members of Congress by Gulen organizations for a $6,100 check he wrote to the Council of Turkic American Associations in May 2013 to pay for a trip to Turkey for New Jersey Rep. [crscore]Leonard Lance[/crscore], a Republican.

None of the Gulen-linked groups asked by TheDC for comment responded. Ozkan also did not reply to an emailed request for comment.

It is not exactly clear why Gulenists have donated so heavily to Clinton’s campaign. A Clinton White House is unlikely to benefit the charter school industry which is central to the Gulenist network. In a speech earlier this month Clinton criticized charter schools, claiming that they often refuse to take students who are difficult to teach. Though Clinton and her husband have both praised charter schools in the past, the Democrat’s flip-flop was seen by many as a political appeal to teachers unions.

Asked whether the purpose of the Gulenists’ political contributions is part of an effort to support their charter schools, to open up business opportunities for Turks, or to protect Fethullah Gulen, Yesilada said “all of the above.”

“And also finding sympathetic ears for their existence,” he added, noting the annual cultural trips Gulenists provide to members of Congress.

“Gulenists right now are keeping a low profile, but they are reaching out everywhere through a very clever lobbying effort to maintain their political connections and to make sure sympathy stays,” Yesilada said.

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