WASHINGTON, D.C. – Turkish Caucus Member Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD) was defeated in Maryland’s Democratic Senate primary last night by long-time supporter of Armenian issues, Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).
According to OpenSecrets.org, Donna Edwards has received thousands of dollars from Turkish PACs, and was supported by the “Ten Thousand Turks PAC” in her race against Congressman Van Hollen to become the democratic Senatorial candidate to replace outgoing Senator Barbara Mikulksi (D-MD). In fact, the Daily Sabah reported that the Turkish lobby has given over $26,000 to Rep. Edwards in order to defeat Rep. Van Hollen from becoming the successor to Senator Mikulski, noting “Van Hollen is a strong supporter of Armenian and Greek issues whereas Edwards is a member of the Turkish Caucus.”
Rep. Edwards’ campaign also received $2.1 million in PAC support from the founder of a Connecticut-based hedge fund, Donald Sussman, an extraordinary amount of money for an outsider to pump into the race. Sussman was previously married to Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME), who traveled to Turkey in April 2013 and met with former Turkish President Abdullah Gul and other high-ranking officials as part of an eight-member Congressional delegation trip to Turkey, paid by the Turkish Government.
In addition to Turkish PAC money, Edwards participated in a Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) funded trip to Turkey in April of 2011, where she attended the Second Annual Turkic American Convention.
Last year, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and the House Committee on Ethics found that Congressional travel to Azerbaijan and Turkey was “not funded exclusively by the entities disclosed on travel forms submitted to the Committee on Ethics.” According to an investigation by USA Today, Turkish groups “secretly funded as many as 200 trips to Turkey for members of Congress and staff since 2008, repeatedly violating House rules and possibly federal law.”
In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the Assembly asked for further investigation of potential illegal activities from U.S. groups tied to foreign organizations in Turkey and Azerbaijan.