Jul 10 2018

Fmr congressman Boustany revealed as lobbiest for Turkey

Former U.S. Republican Representative Charles Boustany has been outed as the newest lobbyist of the Turkish government's long list of lobbyists in the U.S. capital. 

The Turkish government has in recent years accelerated its spending to buy the services of more influential players  in the United States, both to counter the powerful Gülen Movement's lobbying activities and to reach out to the Trump presidency for many regional issues, including Syrian-Kurdish policymaking. The Turkish government accuses Fethullah Gülen, exiled Turkish preacher, as the main culprit behind the failed coup attempt. Gülen denies these charges.

Washington DC's prominent political paper Politico reported that Boustany,

landed at Capitol Counsel last year shortly after leaving Congress, was banned from lobbying his former colleagues when he joined the firm under House ethics rules. The ban lapsed in January, and new disclosure filings show Boustany is now lobbying his former colleagues on behalf of one of Capitol Counsel's clients: the Turkish government.

To lobby for the Turkish government, Boustany met with Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) on Feb. 27 and with Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) on March 21, according to a Justice Department filing. He also texted with Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) twice in May.

Royce is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Sessions is a co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkey Relations and Turkish Americans.

To see a full accounting of Turkish government and Gulenist lobbying expenditures in 2017 and projected for 2018, click here.

Turkey has rented some powerful actors in Washington, DC in recent years, including Brian Ballard, who Politico recently dubbed “the most powerful lobbyist in Trump’s Washington.”

Turkey reportedly paid $500,000 to Michael Flynn, a retired U.S. general who briefly served as U.S. President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser, to investigate Fethullah Gülen, a job that allegedly included a plan to secretly abduct and extradite the preacher to Turkey.

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, another figure with close links to Trump, reportedly met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Feb. 2017 to discuss a deal to release Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian businessman arrested in the United States for his role at the centre of a scheme run through a Turkish state-owned bank to break U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The U.S. Congress' both chambers are inching closer to sanction the Erdogan government for its purchase of Russian S-400 air defence system as well as imprisonment of American pastor Andrew Brunson for terror charges.

The multi-million dollar question is whether all these expenditures have bought the Turkish government the policy results they have been seeking. Analysts and sources with experience dealing with both Turkish and Gulenist lobbyists have mixed opinions.

However, some of the vital issues appear to have been sticking between the Erdogan government and the successive U.S. administrations have not been solved in recent years, instead they appear to have increased and become more complex.