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Partner of Former Trump Advisor’s Lobbying Group Worked for US-Based Turkish Influence Organization

November 10th, 2020 12:25

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) has iden­ti­fied a sec­ond indi­vid­ual work­ing on behalf of an orga­ni­za­tion close to Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Erdoğan, who is tied to the for­mer cam­paign staff of Don­ald Trump. In Octo­ber, the GIOR post­ed about Avenue Strate­gies, a lob­by­ing group found­ed by a for­mer Trump senior cam­paign advis­er who will be help­ing a Turk­ish MP close to Erdoğan to devel­op con­nec­tions in Wash­ing­ton. The Nordic Mon­i­tor report on which that post was based addi­tion­al­ly iden­ti­fies John Cpin, a part­ner in  Avenue Strate­gies who also has ties to the Turk­ish Her­itage organization:

Octo­ber 11, 2020 This is not the first time Avenue Strate­gies’ rela­tions with impor­tant Turk­ish fig­ures have been revealed. In June 2019 Gönül Tol, direc­tor of the Turkey Pro­gram at Wash­ing­ton, D.C.,-based think tank the Mid­dle East Insti­tute, claimed in a tweet that THO had offered in an email to pay $350 to peo­ple who agreed to attend a con­fer­ence at which Turkey’s jus­tice min­is­ter, Abdül­hamit Gül, would talk about the Turk­ish government’s judi­cial reform strat­e­gy. The email was sent by John Cpin, a part­ner in Avenue Strate­gies. In response to Tol’s claims, THO Pres­i­dent Ali Çınar shared the image of an email by Cpin to Tol apol­o­giz­ing “for the mis­un­der­stand­ing” and claim­ing that “THO was not pay­ing any hon­o­rar­i­um.” The exchange revealed that Avenue Strate­gies was work­ing for THO, with or with­out an offi­cial contract.

Read the rest here.

The Turk­ish Her­itage Orga­ni­za­tion (THO) has denied work­ing with Avenue Part­ners, stat­ing: “A pub­lic rela­tions firm that we don’t work with sent this invi­ta­tion to her [Gonul Tol] with­out our knowl­edge.” How­ev­er, accord­ing to the Huff­in­g­ton Post, Cpin had been pre­vi­ous­ly employed by the THO and was work­ing for Avenue Part­ners at the time of the incident:

Ali Cinar, the head of the THO, told Huff­Post the offer was false but that the orga­ni­za­tion had pre­vi­ous­ly employed Cpin. Com­mu­ni­cat­ing with Huff­Post via email, Cpin or the per­son con­trol­ling the email account said the invi­ta­tion was sent with­out the THO’s knowl­edge to try and win fresh busi­ness by show­ing he could get promi­nent ana­lysts to its events; the per­son said he planned to pay the hon­o­rar­i­um from per­son­al funds. Until ear­li­er this year, a John Cpin worked as a lob­by­ist at Avenue Strate­gies Glob­al LLC, the firm found­ed by Trump asso­ciates Corey Lewandows­ki and Bar­ry Ben­nett. The com­pa­ny works for Turkey’s ally, Qatar.

John Cpin, in his capac­i­ty at Avenue Strate­gies, was also work­ing for the Embassy of Qatar, at the same time as the hon­o­rar­i­um inci­dent. As we detailed in the pre­vi­ous post, Qatar is a strate­gic ally of Turkey, and Avenue Strate­gies has stat­ed that it rep­re­sents Qatar in pub­lic affairs mat­ters. Avenue Strate­gies’ actions on behalf of the state of Qatar have included:

  • Gain­ing the writ­ten tes­ti­mo­ny of a retired Israeli mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer stat­ing that Qatar had not pro­vid­ed Hamas weapons, poten­tial­ly pre­vent­ing sanc­tions against Qatar.
  • Con­tribut­ing to forc­ing the Sau­di Amer­i­can Pub­lic Rela­tions Affairs Com­mit­tee to reg­is­ter as a for­eign agent.

The US-based Turk­ish Her­itage Orga­ni­za­tion (THO) describes itself as a non­par­ti­san, non­prof­it 501(c)(3) orga­ni­za­tion deal­ing with US-Turkey rela­tions and Turkey’s role in the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, among oth­ers. Its cur­rent pres­i­dent Ali Cinar has writ­ten many arti­cles or op-eds for state-oper­at­ed and pro-gov­ern­ment news­pa­pers. His name appeared in a warn­ing from a Turkey expert at the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Progress think tank to Hilary Clinton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign man­ag­er about the “Erdo­gan crew” invest­ing in Demo­c­ra­t­ic politi­cians. Its pre­vi­ous pres­i­dent and oth­er THO lead­ers report­ed to Erdoğan’s son-in-law and oth­er Turk­ish offi­cials about the THO’s lob­by­ing efforts.