Red flags over Dr. Oz’s ties to Turkey and his ‘problematic’ election vote in foreign country

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Controversial Trump-endorsed Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz faces scrutiny over his disturbing ties to Turkey and its authoritarian leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Specifically at issue is the fact that Oz boasts both U.S./Turkish citizenship and is reluctant to renounce the latter.

“Members of the U.S. Senate often have conflicts of interest, both business and personal. But never before has our country experienced a senator who has dual citizenship, served in a foreign military and maintains deep ties to the other nation where he holds citizenship — one where the leader is notorious for punishing those who cross him,” The Washington Post reported in February.

“Mehmet Oz — more commonly known by his television name of ‘Dr. Oz’ — has myriad connections to Turkey and the world of its autocratic president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that are causing concern in Washington and beyond,” the outlet added.

One particularly nasty connection is Oz’s link to Gunay Evinch.

“[I]n 2019, Oz was the ‘special guest’ at a fundraiser for the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC), whose co-chair is Turkish American attorney Gunay Evinch, a registered agent of the Turkish government,” the Post noted.

“Evinch’s law firm allegedly worked with Turkey’s Washington embassy to compile dossiers on Erdogan’s critics inside the United States, including those associated with exiled religious leader Fethullah Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania.”

At the time of the piece’s publication in February, Oz dismissed the concerns.

“Oz explains his interactions with top Turkish businessmen and political figures over several years as totally normal for a Turkish American celebrity of his stature. He was participating as a member of the Turkish American community, not as a politician, he told me. Oz said he does not know Evinch and has had no contact with him other than onstage at the 2019 DEIK event,” the Post reported.

Speaking in his own words, Oz added, “I hadn’t even really gotten engaged in any of this until I decided to run for the Senate, and I’d never been politically involved in Turkey in any capacity. I didn’t even donate money to these organizations.”

Returning to the present, the words seen above in bold have become a concern thanks to a viral image showing Oz voting in the 2018 Turkish presidential election:

Başkonsolosluğumuzda bugün Dr. Mehmet Öz oyunu kullandı.

Yurtdışı seçmen kütüğüne kayıtlı vatandaşlarımız 17 Haziran 2018 tarihine kadar 09.00-21.00 saatleri arasında oylarını kullanabilirler.

Posted by Turkish Consulate General in New York – T.C. New York Başkonsolosluğu on Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Posted in 2018 by the Turkish Consulate General in New York, the photo seems to contradict the Pennsylvania Senate candidate’s claim of having “never been politically involved in Turkey in any capacity.”

The photo also poses other issues: “The decision to vote in a foreign country’s election is problematic from a security clearance perspective,” John V. Berry, a former government lawyer with expertise in federal security clearances, told ABC News.

Oz disagrees with both premises.

“Voting in an election is far different from being actively engaged in the political work of the Turkish government, which Dr. Oz has never been involved with. There is no security issue whatsoever,” according to his campaign spokesperson.

Some experts back this view, including former Trump administration official Richard Grenell.

“It is frankly un-American to suggest that first- and second-generation Americans are unworthy or suspect to work as a U.S. official. They’ve seen fascism and totalitarianism and are actually more clear-eyed about what is at stake,” he told ABC News.

Oz was born in the United States to Turkish immigrants but reportedly spent summers in Turkey and also two years in the Turkish army.

Both Democrats and many conservatives have decided to side with Oz’s critics, as was made clear in a stunning New York magazine piece published in December. The piece described how some Republicans feel about Oz, and the description was out of this world.

“An elite, pro-choice, anti-gun, transgender-child-supporting, Michelle Obama–hugging Muslim carpet-bagger and Turkish-army veteran who once announced on national television that his testicles descend in such a way that his penis curves to the left,” New York magazine reported.

“That is a sample of the data conservative Republicans cite as proof that Dr. Oz is a threat to their plans to win the Senate in 2022. And that’s just what they’ve identified in the vast public record available courtesy of Dr. Oz himself. The oppo researchers have barely started.”

Meanwhile, Oz’s been accused of behaving like a Democrat for accusing those concerned about his dual citizenship of being “racist.”

In fairness to Oz, he’s claimed he’s maintaining his Turkish citizenship “to care for his mother in Turkey, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease,” according to ABC News.


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Vivek Saxena


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