Former NSA Michael Flynn Discloses Lobbying That May Have Helped Turkey
WASHINGTON—Former United States National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was relieved of his duties by President Donald Trump last month, has registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for $530,000 worth of lobbying work before Election Day. According to an Associated Pres report, some of the lobbying work may have aided the Turkish government.
Paperwork that was filed on March 7 with the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Unit stated that Flynn and his firm were voluntarily registering for lobbying from August to November that “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.”
After Flynn’s firm’s work on behalf of a Turkish company was done, he agreed not to lobby for five years after leaving government service and never to represent foreign governments.
According to the Foreign Agent Registration Act, U.S. citizens who lobby on behalf of foreign government or political entities must disclose their work to the Justice Department. Purposely failing to register is a felony even though the Justice Department rarely files criminal cases with such cases.
Turkish businessman Ekim Alpetkin, who’s Inovo BV company had hired Flynn’s consulting firm, told The Associated Press that the amended filings were done in response to the pressure from the Justice Department in recent weeks. He added that he disagreed with Flynn’s decision to file the registration documents.
“I disagree with the filing,” he told The Associated Press over the phone. “It would be different if I was working for the government of Turkey, but I am not taking directions from anyone in the government.”
Flynn’s attorney did not respond to any questions about whether Flynn had been contacted by the FBI or the Justice Department about his lobbying activities.
Previously, Flynn’s firm had disclosed to Congress that it had worked for Inovo BV, but had never filed any paperwork. Filing paperwork requires more information about the work that benefits the foreign government and political interests.
Flynn and his firm have not commented on the matter.
An official at the Turkish embassy in Washington said he would refer the questions to the embassy spokesman. However, the spokesman did not immediately respond to The Associated Press’ inquiry. The White House has also not responded to requests for comment as of March 8.
According to the new paperwork, Flynn took on the Turkey related lobbying work in August when he was military adviser to the Trump campaign. In September, Flynn’s firm was invited by Alptekin to meet with Turkish officials in New York—a meeting, which was confirmed by Turkish businessman. The documents stated that the officials that Flynn’s firm met with were Turkey’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Energy.
Though Alptekin had previously told The Associated Press that he has no relationship with the Turkish government, he is currently a member of a Turkish economic relations board run by an appointee of Turkish President Recep Tayyi Erdogan.
According to the paperwork filed, Flynn’s firm’s work involved collecting information about cleric Fethellah Gulen and pressuring U.S. officials to take action against him. Erdogan has accused Gulen of orchestrating the coup in July and has called for his extradition from the U.S.
In Oct. 2016, Flynn was working on an op-ed promoting Turkey’s political and business affairs that was later published in The Hill. Flynn wrote that Turkey needed support and reiterated Erdogan’s warnings about Gulen.
The new filing also revealed that in writing the op-ed, Flynn relied on research conducted as a part of the Inovo BV contract. Flynn’s firm also admitted that it conducted an “open-source research,” directed by Inovo BV, focusing on Gulen.
In addition to Inovo BV, the results were provided to a separate lobbying firm called S.G.R. LLC Government Relations and Lobbying. The results were also aimed at being distributed to “third parties” but the project terminated early according to the filings.
The new documents showed two six-figure checks to Flynn’s firm in Sept. and Oct. with the final payment of $145,000 being received on Nov. 14, 2016, just days after Trump’s presidency, reported USA Today. Flynn shut his firm down in November.
Source: Armenian Weekly
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