Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) stashed away $1,500 in campaign donations from a lobbying group tied to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to campaign finance records.
The Minnesota congresswoman was also photographed together with activist Halil Mutlu at an event for the Turkish American Steering Committee (TASC), an American-based nonprofit organization that has been waging public relations campaigns in support of Turkish government policies and the Turkish president for numerous years, according to the Daily Caller.
TASC, founded in 2015, aims to orchestrate a public relations push to bring question into whether the Ottoman Empire had committed genocide against Armenians over a century ago, the Daily Caller reports.
Mutlu, who co-chairs TACS, has been identified by Turkish media to be Erdogan’s cousin, according to the group’s website.
For years, Turkey had vehemently denounced the usage of the term “genocide” to categorize the mass murder.
The group has also engaged in rallies outside the White House to denounce Syrian Kurds as terrorists, following the Turkish government’s assertion that they are so.
Mutlu, a Connecticut-based physician, has also led TASC protests outside the Pennsylvania residence of Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Muslim cleric who Erdogan wants to have extradited back to Turkey, according to the Daily Caller.
Omar is facing intense criticism from both sides of the House for refusing to support a Tuesday House resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide, and her vote is seen as to have been cast in the interest of the Turkish government.
The Minnesota congresswoman was just one of three House representatives to vote neutral with “present” on the bill.
Omar argued that the resolution was being used as a “cudgel in a political fight” against Turkey, despite the fact that Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States. She then added that she will not be passing judgment on the genocide question until an “academic consensus” had been established.
Omar’s argument for not backing the resolution is her belief that “accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as a cudgel in a political fight” but should rather “be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics,” Fox News reports.
But political analyst Zaid Jilani shot down Omar’s claims on the basis that “Congress has passed many resolutions condemning abuses against Native Americans and slavery” and “it has never passed a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide.”
“That’s why Ilhan Omar’s explanation here rings hollow,” Zaid noted.
Omar was also the only Democrat who opposed imposing sanctions against Turkey over air strikes against the Syrian Kurds, who have cooperated with U.S. forces in the battle against ISIS. The House saw incredible bipartisan support, with 403 to 16 votes in favor of the measure.
The non-binding resolution passed the chamber by 405 to 11 votes, reflecting an overwhelming amount of bipartisan support.
The House resolution recognizes that the Ottoman Empire committed a genocide against the Armenian people in which 1.5 million were killed during World War I, according to National Review. The resolution identified the Ottoman Empire rather than Turkey, as the party responsible.