US media is reporting that Senate Candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz has several connections to the Turkish government. According to the Washington Post op-ed:
February 16, 2022 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. 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. Oz’s young candidacy for Pennsylvania’s seat has been portrayed in the press as quirky or stumbling or controversial, mostly because of Oz’s various comments over the years as television’s most famous doctor. But Oz’s bid to win the GOP primary in May is serious. His campaign is spending millions on television ads. He has near 100 percent name recognition and a huge social media following. The latest polls show him as the front-runner, 11 points above former Treasury Department official and hedge-fund executive David McCormick and 12 points above President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Denmark and former actress Carla Sands. As the prospect of “Senator Doctor Oz” becomes plausible, several reports have questioned Oz’s national allegiances and detailed his ties to elite business and political circles in Turkey. Experts on Turkey say that while Oz’s Turkish and Muslim heritage would be a positive contribution to the diversity of the Senate, it’s legitimate to worry about the extent to which his assets and family members in Turkey would provide Erdogan with leverage over the future senator.
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Oz is a celebrity physician who has used his daytime television show to promote weight loss drugs and make unfounded claims such as apple juice containing arsenic and women with cellphones in their bras causing breast cancer. In 2020, he also praised limited studies promoting chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for COVID-19 on his show. This advice contradicted the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, and these studies later proved to be flawed.
The Post’s article also cites a National Review report about Oz’s ties to Turkey, which together detail several connections between Oz and the Turkish government, including:
- In 2011, Oz was elected to the High Advisory Council of the World Turkish Business Council, the international business-lobbying arm of Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board, which is controlled by the Ministry of Economy
- Since 2017, he has been the public face of state-owned Turkish Airlines
- In 2019, Oz spoke at a World Turkish Business Council conference in NYC, co-hosted by Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) co-chair Gunay Evinch
- In 2019, Oz stood arm-in-arm with Turkish Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül at a Turkish heritage parade in Brooklyn, NY.
- Oz was the special guest at an October 25, 2019, fundraiser co-sponsored by TASC and the Diyanet Center of America, the US branch of the Diyanet.
The National Review also reports that Oz is known to attend a Diyanet mosque in New Jersey.
The Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) is strongly tied to Turkish President Erdoğan:
- 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 co-chair Halil Mutlu is Erdoğan’s cousin.
- TASC’s former treasurer, Murat Guzel, detailed his US political activities in e‑mails to Erdoğan family members.
The Directorate of Religious Affairs (Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı or Diyanet) is a Turkish state institution responsible for managing religious affairs. The Diyanet was founded in 1924 to monopolize control of Sunni Islam in Turkey under the state. The Diyanet drafts a weekly sermon delivered at all of Turkey’s mosques, and their imams are civil servants employed by the state.