Turkish media is reporting that President Erdoğan’s AKP party is opening a representative office in the US, headed by an individual who has led a Turkish-American influence organization. According to the Tele1 report:
17 May 2022: The AKP opened an official representative office in Washington on the instructions of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Halil Mutlu, Erdoğan’s cousin, was appointed as the AKP’s representative in the US.Halil Mutlu, who is one of the founders and a board member of the TÜRKEN (USA) Foundation, which was jointly established by Ensar and Türgev Foundations in the USA in 2014, and who is also the director of the pro-AKP Turkish-American Steering Committee (TASC), has officially registered with the US Department of Justice as the AKP representative.In order to open a political party representation office in the US, one must register with FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act). [Translated by DeepL with edits]
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One of the FARA registration documents states that it engages with President Erdoğan himself, and that the US AKP Representation will engage directly in lobbying for AKP policies, including via US politicians, and gaining support for the party in elections:
The political activities of the AK party representation to the United States LLC will include but not limited to activities involving lobbying, organizing political, social and cultural meetings for the Turkish citizens, US politicians, government organizations, non profit organizations, etc in the United States regarding AK party policies. it will also prepare and disseminate AK party material in the Unites States for the political support of the Turkish citizens during elections.
In addition to Mutlu’s family ties, the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) is also strongly tied to Turkish President Erdoğan as:
- TASC co-chair Gunay Evinch is a principal of Saltzman & Evinch, a law firm retained by Turkey and registered as a foreign agent of Turkey in 2020.
- TASC’s former treasurer, Murat Guzel, detailed his US political activities in e‑mails to Erdoğan family members.
GIOR has previously reported on Mutlu’s appointment as AKP USA Representative, his wife joining the TASC board after his departure, and on TASC’s new co-chair, who likely has ultranationalist sympathies.
As GIOR has additionally reported, the TÜRKEN Foundation is also connected to TASC and President Erdoğan’s daughter, Esra Albayrak, is on its board.