The House of Representatives’ Ethics Committee has cleared nine of its fellow representatives, and 30 of their staffers, for accepting more than $100,000 worth of free travel to Azerbaijan, along with gifts such as expensive rugs and crystal tea sets.
This occurred after the Office of Congressional Ethics determined that the Azeri and Turkish nonprofit groups that ostensibly funded this trip were themselves funneled money by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan. The Ethics Committee had the OCE’s report when it made its determination, but concluded that the members did not knowingly violate any rules when they accepted the trip.
Perhaps the word “knowingly” is vague, but unless you just arrived on Capitol Hill after spending most of your life in an abandoned mine shaft, pretty much everybody knows about Azerbaijan, its complete lack of ethics, and its history of attempting to purchase legislation and rewrite the truth about its actions.
To its credit, the Ethics Committee did refer this matter to the Justice Department to further investigate the nonprofits; to its shame, it is perpetuating a false image that Turkey and Azerbaijan are true allies.
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Nelsene DeRanian, Fresno