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Turkey Hired A Dozen US Lobby Firms In 2020; Made $526,177 In Campaign Contributions

November 12th, 2021 14:50

The Cen­tre for Inter­na­tion­al Pol­i­cy (CIP), a US think tank, is report­ing that Turkey hired at least eleven US lob­by firms in 2020, which made cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions total­ing more than USD 500,000 last year. Accord­ing to a CIP report on Turkey’s lob­by in the US:

Octo­ber 2021 While rela­tions between Ankara and Wash­ing­ton have always been del­i­cate, Turk­ish  Pres­i­dent Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent con­tro­ver­sial for­eign pol­i­cy deci­sions and turn  towards author­i­tar­i­an­ism at home have, arguably, made U.S.-Turkey rela­tions more strained  than ever before.  Fol­low­ing an attempt­ed 2016 coup in Turkey, Erdo­gan used the inci­dent to purge his  polit­i­cal oppo­nents from the Turk­ish mil­i­tary and bureau­cra­cy and grant him­self vast­ly  expand­ed pow­ers through pres­i­den­tial rule. Abroad, his unusu­al­ly assertive Turk­ish for­eign  policy—including recent mil­i­tary inter­ven­tions and sup­port for proxy forces in Syr­ia, Libya,  Iraq, and Nagorno-Karabakh—has at times clashed with U.S. inter­ests and Turkey’s oth­er  NATO allies. Addi­tion­al­ly, spe­cif­ic sources of ten­sion in U.S.-Turkey rela­tions include: Turkey’s pur­chase  of the Russ­ian S‑400 air defense sys­tem; the refusal of the U.S. to extra­dite Fethul­lah  Gulen, a Turk­ish cler­ic who Erdo­gan accus­es of mas­ter­mind­ing the 2016 coup attempt;  and Turkey’s inter­ven­tion in Syr­ia in oppo­si­tion to U.S. sup­port for the Kur­dish People’s  Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG).  While seem­ing­ly dis­tinct sources of ten­sion, all of these issues have at least one thing in  com­mon: lob­by­ing. Each of these issues that has deeply strained rela­tions between the  U.S. and Turkey has been the object of con­sid­er­able lob­by­ing, pub­lic rela­tions, and relat­ed  attempts at influ­ence by Turkey’s for­eign agents in the U.S.

Read the full report here.

Hav­ing ana­lyzed every 2020 For­eign Agents Reg­is­tra­tion Act (FARA) doc­u­ment filed by orga­ni­za­tions reg­is­tered to work on behalf of Turk­ish clients,  the CIP con­cludes that Turkey’s agents attempt­ed — and large­ly failed — to shift US stances on these and oth­er issues. The CIP record­ed the fol­low­ing polit­i­cal activ­i­ties done on behalf of Turkey in the US in 2020:

  • 11 orga­ni­za­tions were reg­is­tered under FARA to work on Turkey’s behalf in 2020
  • Those orga­ni­za­tions report­ed mak­ing 2,319 con­tacts on behalf of their Turk­ish clients.
  • 568 cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions total­ing $526,177 made by those firms and their reg­is­tered for­eign agents.
  • 17 elect­ed offi­cials received near­ly $37,000 in con­tri­bu­tions from firms that had con­tact­ed their offices on behalf of Turk­ish clients.
  • 1 Sen­a­tor received a cam­paign con­tri­bu­tion from a firm that had con­tact­ed her office on Turkey’s behalf that same day.

The CIP also notes that its report only cov­ers one part of Turkey’s influ­ence in the US and does not address the impact of NGOs such as the Turk­ish Her­itage Orga­ni­za­tion or illic­it influ­ence oper­a­tions such as the work Michael Fly­nn did on Turkey’s behalf.

As of Sep­tem­ber 2021, there are still ten FARA reg­is­trants work­ing on behalf of clients in  Turkey.