Thursday, May 8, 2014

Gulenist Soft-Lobbying In Illinois: Add Four More Names

We've got a couple new posts in the hopper having to with the Gulen-linked charter schools; be on the lookout for those. A couple of the things we've uncovered are pretty glaring and quite detailed, so I'm taking my time with the posts. For now, just remember the confident assurances of the executive director of the Illinois State Charter Commission:

In the same article, this individual asserts that the Charter Commission performed a "very detailed" investigation.

Let me assure you that we have questions for the Commission, and down the road we'll turn to  asking for the records of this detailed investigation. They must exist; that's what "detailed" means.  But that's for later.

For now let's return to Gulen Movement lobbying in general. Before I forget, please refresh your memory with Dan Mihalopoulos's fine work back in December of last year.  Talk about a detailed investigation! Dan's article was supplemented with a fabulous blog post by Max Rust, who made an interactive diagram of lots and lots of trips to Turkey, all sponsored by two Gulenist organizations in Chicago.

Click here to go all interactive with this thing.
There are 32 trips to Turkey listed on this graphic. Seems like a lot of outreach for one little state. Mind you, these trips are linked to a religious/political/social movement operating inside Turkey- a phenomenon that is well known in Turkey but is taboo here, except apparently in the Sun Times.

We've discovered that the graphic is incomplete. There were more junkets.

Actually, CASILIPS discovered it while doing a bit of research into the goings-on in Springfield back in 2008.  Looks like journalist Kurt Erickson was trying to get some Amtrak-related questions answered back then, but a bunch of pols were out of the country. Where were they?

You need to ask? Seriously?

After the governor announced he wants to cut funding for Amtrak, we thought of asking state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington for some reaction.
After all, Brady was a key player in getting the first subsidies for Amtrak approved back in the 1990s, when he was just a young pup in the House.
Alas, Brady was spending the week in Turkey on a legislative tour and isn't expected to return until Sunday.
Our next thought was to call state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook. She's been a big advocate for Amtrak and serves as chairwoman of a committee that deals with passenger rail service.
Alas, she, too, was on the trip to Turkey.
With all this extra time on our hands, we decided to call state Rep. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga, for his reaction to the governor's decision to keep Pontiac Correctional Center from being closed.
Alas, Cultra was in Turkey too.
In all, there were 10 members of the General Assembly on the overseas voyage.
According to state Sen. Pam Althoff's office, which helped organize the trip, the group went to Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
Members paid for their own airfare, but it wasn't clear whether they tapped into their campaign funds to go on the 10-day trip.
Others on the trip included state Reps. Dan Reitz, Suzanna Mendoza, Kathy Ryg, Sandra Pihos, Karen May and state Sen. Maggie Crotty.
I'm pointing this out because it's interesting that these names didn't show up in whatever search Max Rust did. I bet there are more. (And these are just the state legislators.) I don't know what became of Sen. Crotty, or Rep. Cultra, but it looks to me like the Movemenent had good instincts about the political juice of Bill Brady and of Sandra Pihos. The (Chicago) charter school people are still working (suburban) Representative Pihos, as we pointed out recently.  I wonder how many other city charter schools drive kids out to Glen Ellyn on a school day for a photo op.

Anyway, here's the point. We have on the one hand a known entity, secretive as it may be, connected to one of the most controversial religious/political/social-movement figures of our times, a man who is looking at a potential extradition for a range of behaviors that are clearly illegal and my opinion, politically repressive in nature. This entity is running a soft-lobbying campaign on a scale for which there is no comparison, ferrying dozens of our state policymakers hither and yon, while simultaneously running a network of charter schools back here in the state, a network impacted at every level by decisions made by these very policymakers. And on the other hand, what we have is an unwritten rule that this subject must never, ever be spoken of.

New to the topic? Please see some of my previous posts.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, and Illinois is only ONE of 50 states + DC. To a greater or lesser degree, the Gulenists have been doing the exact same thing in all of them, with the lone exception of South Dakota. However, it just may be that their trips for South Dakotans haven't been made public.

    The return on the Gulenists' investment has been tremendous.