Schmidt’s Ethical Violations Contributed to Defeat
CINCINATTI, Ohio—In a major upset, Brad Wenstrup, a doctor who has never before held political office, ousted seven-year incumbent Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) in a nail-biter GOP primary contest for Ohio’s second Congressional district, local papers reported last night.
According to Politico, Schmidt’s loss was connected to her dealings with the Turkish lobby: “Schmidt’s loss followed a series of negative headlines surrounding an investigation conducted by the Office of Congressional Ethics, which examined whether she received free legal services from the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund in her protracted courtroom fight against her 2008 Democratic opponent, David Krikorian. Last May, the OCE referred the case to the House ethics committee.”
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) issued a statement highlighting Schmidt’s ties to groups campaigning for the continued denial of the Armenian Genocide. “We welcome Congresswoman Jean Schmidt’s rejection by Ohio voters,” read the statement. “The ethics investigation into her impermissible financial ties with genocide-denial groups allied with Ankara clearly contributed meaningfully to her defeat, as did, no doubt, voter backlash against her relentlessly mean-spirited and unfair attacks against Armenian American candidate David Krikorian.”
In a statement released on Aug. 5, 2011, the House Ethics Committee ruled that Schmidt had received—and must pay back—a total of $500,000 in multiple improper gifts from the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) between 2008 and 2010. Schmidt did not, however, face sanctions by the House, as she was able to pin the blame for her behavior on her attorneys Bruce Fein and David Saltzman.
“The Ethics Committee proved that we were right all along: Rep. Schmidt has received a half a million dollars in improper gifts from the TCA,” said Krikorian after the ruling.
“As I’ve stated publicly before, I neither sought nor intended to accept free legal services,” Schmidt said in a statement. “I have been waiting for the Ethics Committee’s advice as to the best way to pay these bills. Now that I have that advice, I look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with the Committee to ensure that these bills are paid appropriately.”
Krikorian considered Schmidt’s efforts to plead ignorance “laughable.”
“Personally I find it hard to believe that Jean Schmidt did not know the facts regarding her own attorneys in legal actions commenced in her own name. I find that to be laughable!” he said. “The American people are tired of Congressmen and women who break the rules and get away with it by blaming someone else. The people of Ohio’s second district deserve better than an ignorant Congresswoman,” he added.
The people of Ohio’s second district have now spoken.