June 25
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The Justice Department has issued an indictment of former non-profit head Kevin Oksuz for his role in a plot to hide the fact that a 2013 congressional delegation trip to Azerbaijan was funded by that country’s government, Roll Call reported. 

According to the Justice Department , Kemal Oksuz, aka Kevin Oksuz, 48, previously a resident of Arlington, Virginia, allegedly lied on disclosure forms filed with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics prior to, and following, a privately sponsored Congressional trip to Azerbaijan.  According to the indictment, Oksuz allegedly falsely represented and certified on required disclosure forms that the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasions (TCAE), the Houston non-profit for which Oksuz was president, had not accepted funding for the Congressional trip from any outside sources.  According to the charges, Oksuz in truth orchestrated a scheme to funnel money to fund the trip from the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), the wholly state-owned national oil and gas company of Azerbaijan, and allegedly concealed the true source of funding, which is alleged to violate House travel regulations.

The House Ethics Committee in 2015 determined that there was “no evidence” that 10 lawmakers and more than 30 aides “knowingly violated” congressional rules during a 2013 trip. Privately sponsored travel by House members and staff is regulated by the House Ethics panel.

Nonprofit groups are allowed to sponsor “educational” trips for lawmakers and staff, but the Ethics Committee must review the itinerary, which they did for the May 2013 trip. Nonprofit groups must also certify that they are the source of the funding for the trip. That is where Oksuz went outside the law, according to the indictment.

The five-count indictment was returned earlier this year in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and ordered unsealed today. It charges Oksuz with one count of devising a scheme to falsify, conceal, and cover up material facts from the Ethics Committee and four counts of making false statements to Congress.

The statement says that Oksuz  is considered a fugitive. A warrant for his arrest was issued earlier this year and remains outstanding. Oksuz was recently detained by authorities in Armenia.

Members who participated in the trip included Democratic Reps. Yvette D. Clarke of New York, Danny K. Davis of Illinois, Rubén Hinojosa of Texas, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and Gregory W. Meeks of New York, plus Republican Reps. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma (who has since left Congress to become NASA administrator),  Leonard Lance of New Jersey and Ted Poe of Texas.

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