Ohio Elections Panel Hears Krikorian-Schmidt “Blood Money” Case

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Combined Sources)–The Turkish government covertly funneled campaign money to an Ohio congresswoman in return for her denial of the Armenian Genocide, Armenian American congressional candidate David Krikorian and his high-powered attorney argued at a state hearing Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, a Republican, wants the Ohio Elections Commission to find that Krikorian violated election law when he said in campaign materials during the 2008 campaign that she had accepted “blood money” from the Turkish government in return for her genocide denial.

Schmidt and Krikorian, who plans to challenge her again in 2010, were both questioned during Thursday’s proceedings. Schmidt said she has not accepted money from the Turkish government, while Krikorian, based on research and other publications, said Schmidt was taking Turkish government money through back channels in return for her genocide denials.

Krikorian said Turkish interests, which are trying to fend off a congressional resolution recognizing the genocide, were trying to reward Schmidt for her public position in denial of the genocide.

After roughly seven hours of testimony Thursday, the commission ran out of time and will resume the hearing in October.

The commission is first trying to establish whether it can be proved that the Turkish government, or government-sponsored political action committees, gave money to Schmidt. If the commission decides there is no proof, it must then determine whether Krikorian made the statements in a reckless disregard of the truth.

Donald Brey and Bruce Fein, attorneys for Schmidt, argued that Krikorian was reckless and should have been able to distinguish between campaign contributions from Turkish people and PACs versus money directly from the Turkish government, which is illegal.

But during the hearing, Krikorian’s lawyer, California attorney Mark Geragos, used e-mails and other documents to show how $30,000 in campaign money was solicited – and possibly laundered – via lobbyists, Turkish businessmen and other “registered foreign agents” of Turkey.

Geragos’ team of lawyers flipped through an inch-thick file of exhibits linking Turkish political action committees to Turkish coalitions, corporations, a legal defense fund headed by one of Schmidt’s lawyers and various members of Congress.

As a free-speech issue, Geragos said, Krikorian merely has to prove he was diligent and not reckless in claiming Schmidt took tainted Turkish contributions.

Schmidt testified that she has “never received money from a foreign government including the government of Turkey. … I was not raising money from the Turkish government.”

But Geragos said Krikorian had already proven that Schmidt had received money from Turkish interests, but that at the next hearing he would present evidence of a direct link.

“I called it ‘blood money,'” Krikorian testified of his 2008 campaign claims. “I believe that it is. I stand by everything that I wrote in the last election.”

Krikorian’s defense still seeks to cross-examine Barry Bennett, Schmidt’s chief of staff, and Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator-turned-whistleblower.

In her four-hour deposition Aug. 8, Edmonds described Turkish attempts to bribe and blackmail other members of Congress. Edmonds is out of the country, so Krikorian will get another chance to call her as a witness on Oct. 1.

Krikorian ran as an independent against Schmidt for the 2nd Congressional District in 2008 and plans to try again next year as a Democratic candidate.

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8 Comments

  1. Hye4Life said:

    This story should be hitting the media airways cross the country, but it is not getting any coverage. If the Armenian community had established proper channels with the media outlasts, we would have press them to cover this story. It would have been great opportunity to expose the Turkish lobbying and corrupt politicians under their payroll.
    Let this be a lesson for us to aim for that. I can also list other examples where we could have scored points but we have failed because not having proper access to media; a) the corruption case with ex speaker of the house Denise Hastert, b) CNN’s failure to properly cover the Armenian Genocide in Christian Amanpour’s documentary, c) recent CA court decision on Life Insurance companies, etc…
    The bottom line is; We need to establish ties and/or straighten current relationship with media channels (TV, Newspaper, Internet, Radio…) so this way when the enemy “slips” we will the there to cover it and expose it.

  2. Harry Boghossian said:

    An articles in the Washington Post White House And Turkey Fight Bill On Armenia October 10, 2007 The government of Turkey is spending more than $300,000 a month on communications specialists and high-powered lobbyists, including former congressman Bob Livingston, to defeat the initiative. There are more in the WashingtonPost.com,

  3. Karekin said:

    This case goes far beyond the Turkish government’s attempted manipulation of American politics to serve their interests. It involves such powerful agents as those in the US media, AIPAC and others who are directly connected to anti-Armenian efforts which are financially supported by the Turkish government. In other words, there are many pigs feeding at the same trough, which is why an important issue like this is not highlighted in the American media. Let’s hope these connections are exposed and fully discredited once and for all with this case.

  4. Karekin said:

    This case is especially important because it not only exposes the Turkish government for its blatant, yet clandestine financial support of anti-Armenian activities in the US, but also all of those who are connected to it….such as AIPAC, who pursue the same goals, and those in the US media who refuse to give it little, if any coverage at all. There is a strong anti-Armenian tone to all of this one that begins with a long history of Armenian genocide denial by the usual characters, but also by some who are seen as ‘friends’ in the Armenian community. It is only by exposing and embarrassing those who receive illicit financial support will any of this stop.

  5. Alex Postallian said:

    Fra Schmidt denies she knows nothing about Armenian Genocide,campaign money, turkish association.It seems she knows nothing a (good ploy for a politico) or she is the biggesr LIAR,

  6. manooshag said:

    Hye, Asbarez, thanks for your efforts in bringing out this issue.

    it appears the US media, in diverse forms, the Fourth Estate, is failing to report news. Most journalists have not stepped up to report the issue of USA state secrets being stolen by so-called ‘allies’…. Big, big, story! Almost like the one they had in England many years ago – an embarrassment for its government. This is information from Sibel Edmonds, translator for FBI, a whistle blower, then wrongly fired from FBI.

    Years ago, Bush/Cheney leadership from first had Sibel Edmonds ‘gagged’ by various levels of the US government… sadly, to protect these (so-called) allies!. Years ago, the Edmonds testimony shall have appeared on front pages and more. And certainly, years ago, shall have been revealed to our citizens of the USA – and to the world.
    Sadly, this brings to light the dishonesty of those in our US leadesrhip who, by their own actions , were acting against the security of our own nation, United States of America, despite pledge of allegiances.
    Manooshag

  7. manooshag said:

    Hye – OOPs, forgot… what is stance of our State Department of the United States of America – today, especially, to learn their greatest “allies” (via revelations of FBI/ Sibel Edmond) shall have been receiving U.S. millions ‘aid’, etc. and – simultaneously – these same “allies” – are stealing state secrets of the United States of America…. And today this news is denied to our citizens of the United States of America. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Some foreign relations! Manooshag

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