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Fri Dec 14, 2018, 03:52 PM

The man behind one of the most controversial Congressional trips this decade finally pleads guilty

Source: Talking Points Memo

Kemal Oksuz finally admits that he covered up the trip's foreign funding.
CASEY MICHEL
DEC 14, 2018, 3:04 PM

A former head of a Texas nonprofit pleaded guilty this week to concealing the funding behind a scandal-plagued Congressional trip to Azerbaijan in 2013.

Dozens of representatives and staffers traveled in luxury throughout their visit to Azerbaijan, all of which was secretly funded by the Azeri government’s state-run oil firm. Between the lavish gifts — including thousand-dollar rugs, crystal tea sets, and DVDs featuring Azerbaijan’s dictator — and the subsequent attempts to cover up the Azeri government’s funding, the trip was easily one of the most controversial foreign junkets of the past decade.

The trip also became a case study in how foreign governments seek to influence American legislators without disclosing their role, including using nonprofits to mask the actual funding, and then lying about who is bankrolling the travel.

This week, Kemal Oksuz, the nominal organizer of the trip, admitted that he had worked to conceal the source of funding from the House Ethics Committee. Oksuz, who was recently extradited from Armenia back to the U.S., pleaded guilty to “devising a scheme to falsify, conceal and cover up material facts from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics,” according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

As investigators determined, Oksuz blatantly lied about the source of the trip’s funding. Oksuz claimed that the trip was funded by his Houston-based nonprofit, called the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians (TCAE). In reality, the source of the funding was SOCAR, Azerbaijan’s state-run energy firm.

Read more: https://thinkprogress.org/mastermind-behind-controversial-congressional-trip-to-azerbaijan-pleads-guilty-937ab10a0922/



-snip-

The affair also highlighted how easily it is for foreign governments to funnel funding via 501(c)(3) charitable organizations in the U.S. without any requisite disclosure. As the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project noted, Oksuz used a network of other nonprofit organizations to further obscure the ultimate source of the funding. (One Azeri representative offered free airfare and lodging to this reporter to cover the 2013 trip, so long nothing “negative” was written “about Azerbaijan.” This reporter declined the offer.)

As one of the heads of one of the nonprofits involved said when asked by investigators whether statements about funding were untruthful, “I mean, to be honest, it seems… like so, yes. I mean, we didn’t accept it maybe, but yes we did. What can I say?”


This is why Citizens United and other forms of this shit should be eliminated...............

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Reply The man behind one of the most controversial Congressional trips this decade finally pleads guilty (Original post)
turbinetree Dec 14 OP
pecosbob Dec 14 #1
japple Dec 14 #3
cstanleytech Dec 14 #2
LiberalFighter Dec 14 #4

Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2018, 04:05 PM

1. I grew up in Houston and Ms. Jackson Lee has served that district for decades now

since the untimely death of her husband in a plane wreck. I find her involvement in that junket somewhat disturbing.

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Response to pecosbob (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 14, 2018, 05:00 PM

3. No indication of wrongdoing from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Rep. Ted Poe, Rep.

Lujan Grisham.

From the article:
There remains no indication that any Congressional representatives on the trip — which included Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Ted Poe (R-TX), and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) — committed any wrongdoing.

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2018, 04:08 PM

2. Eliminating it will be difficult given the current SCOTUS however we could call for even stricter

mandatory sentences including life sentences for any such crimes that involve amounts in excess of 20,000 for example.

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Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2018, 06:13 PM

4. Are foreigners able to create 501s in the U.S.?

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