Gulen-linked group allegedly gave 'improper' US donations

Gulen-linked group accused of making 'improper' campaign donations to leading US politicians

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

US based preacher of Turkish origin Fethullah Gulen is founder of Gulen Movement which is accused by the Turkish government of establishing and leading a “parallel state.”

A Gulen-linked group which had previously been accused of  illegally financing congressional travel abroad from the United States, is now accused of providing improper campaign donations to congressional and presidential US candidates.

President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush were among those who received large donations from individuals who could not be traced.

According to the national American daily USA Today, the people who made these large campaign donations had little knowledge of to whom they had given money and they are also people with modest incomes.

USA Today reports also indicated that all the donors have ties with the Gulen Movement, named after its founder Fethullah Gulen who is a US based preacher of Turkish origin.

The Gulen Movement is accused by the Turkish government of establishing and leading a "parallel state," composed of a network of followers who have allegedly infiltrated the judiciary, police force, and other state agencies to control these institutions.

Senator Ayotte refunds donations

American Senator Kelly Ayotte was among those senators who received donations from Gulen-linked donors. The report said that she refunded a total of $43,100 suspicious donations to the donors.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the campaign has refunded the contributions in question," said Ayotte's campaign manager Jon Kohan.

It has also been reported that some of the 19 Turkish-Americans who donated to Ayotte did not even know if the senator was male or female.

Iman Cesari, a 30-year-old Nassau County employee in Long Island, New York, who gave Ayotte $1,200 said, "He's a good guy. He's doing good so far. ... I know him,” referring to Ayotte.

Charter school teacher donated money

According to reports, some of the donors were employees of Gulen-linked schools or non-profit organisations.

Among them, Akif Camizci is said to have given a donation to Republican Henry Cuellar who received nine $2,500 donations from out-of-state Turkish-Americans on Oct. 7, 2013.

Camizci was identified as a Gulen-linked charter school school teacher in Toledo, Ohio, who was earning $37,000 a year and he could not be reached at the school.

Also among the donors, then Vice President of the Turkish American Foundation of the Midwest in Mount Prospect, Bilal Eksili, is said to have donated a total of $5,000 to Cuellar that day.

The foundation reported to the IRS that his full-time salary was $31,592. However, FEC records show Eksili has donated $38,000 to political campaigns since 2010. Eksili also could not be reached by reporters.

The reports show that the movement runs more than 100 charter schools and dozens of Turkish cultural centers and "intercultural dialogue" groups around the United States.

It is suggested that since most of the employees move around among the schools and among the non-profit groups, it becomes hard to keep track of who is working where at any given time.

TRTWorld and agencies