Claiming that Ohio's Republican U.S. House Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-2nd) is "conced[ing] that she does deny the Armenian Genocide," the campaign of her Democratic challenger David Krikorian has just issued a press release (posted in full below), stating that Schmidt has dropped four of her "false statements" complaints against him in her Ohio Election Commission (OEC) case, while petitioning the court to add a new claim in the bargain.
The news comes on the heels of last Saturday's deposition by the FBI's former Turkish-American translator Sibel Edmonds who had been subpoenaed last week to testify in the case. The whistleblower had been previous-gagged by two different assertions of the "state secrets" privilege during the Bush Administration. She was finally able to testify on Saturday, under oath, about alleged infiltration, bribery, and blackmail by Turkish agents, of current and former members of the U.S. Congress and other high ranking officials in the Departments of State and Defense. The BRAD BLOG covered the stunning deposition as it happened last Saturday.
Schmidt had challenged Krikorian's claim, during his 2008 independent campaign against her, that she accepted "blood money" from Turkish agents in exchange for helping to block a Congressional resolution recognizing the 1915 killing of some 1.5 million ethnic Armenians as a genocide....
In today's statement, Krikorian says: "Jean and her friends at the Turkish Legal Defense Fund are on a fishing expedition ... First she brought the charges, then she realized that she could not win her case and petitioned the court to drop the charges, now she is adding a new one. Typical Jean Schmidt behavior, it's a shame she is not putting forward this kind of effort on the health care debate."
The campaign said that "the statements Schmidt claimed were false are in relation to her denial of the Armenian Genocide," adding that "In dropping the charges, Schmidt essentially conceded that she does deny the Armenian Genocide."
"Being #1 on the Turkish Lobby scoreboard has financial advantages for Jean, but what does it do for our district?" Krikorian asked in the release. He has alleged that the 2nd Congressional district in Ohio has very few, if any, ethnic Turk's among the voting population. Yet, he notes, "Jean Schmidt took more money from the Turkish Lobby during the 2008 election cycle than any other member of Congress."
The Cincinnati Enquirer's Jon Craig has quickly summarized Schmidt's claims in a blog item posted today.
Earlier this week, Krikorian had issued another press release following Edmonds' deposition, describing her testimony alleging that "the Turkish Lobby in the United States was under the direction of the Turkish Government and engaged in operations including bribery, espionage and blackmail with certain members of the US House of Representatives to further its objectives in the United States including one of which is the denial of the Armenian Genocide."
On Saturday, during a break in the whistleblower's deposition, Krikorian stated to The BRAD BLOG: "From my opinion, if I'm some of the current members of Congress, I'd be very very worried about the information that's going to come out of this. There are current members of Congress that she has implicated in bribery, espionage. It's not good. It's crazy, it's absolutely crazy. For people in power situations in the United States, who know about this information, if they don't take action against it, in my opinion, it's negligence." (Video of his comments, and those of Edmonds' and several of the attorneys on all sides was posted here.)
In response to the deposition and flurry of activity in this case, the Turkish Coalition of America posted a scathing, unbylined attack at their blog, on both Krikorian and Edmonds, describing the former's case as "desperate," and the latter as "disgruntled and discredited." That was on Wednesday, prior to yesterday's hearing in which three claims were dropped, and others were found to have enough "probable cause" to merit an evidentiary hearing in September. We examined that blog item earlier today.
Questions About Ohio Paper's Coverage of Schmidt/Krikorian Case
In a related matter, Krikorian also notes in his press release that the Cincinnati Enquirer's original article covering yesterday's preliminary hearing in the OEC's Schmidt v. Krikorian case in Columbus was biased in favor of the Schmidt campaign. The Krikorian campaign "challenged their first edition" and was successful in seeing some of the coverage modified, but it was "not good enough," as Krikorian himself told The BRAD BLOG late this afternoon in a phone conversation.
He charges that the Enquirer ownership is "totally bought and paid for" by the Schmidt campaign. "They never give a fair shake in my opinion," he said, though he acknowledged the reporter who wrote the story, Jon Craig, "is a good guy" and doesn't seem to have been the one to influence what he viewed as inappropriately negative coverage. In the press release, his campaign notes that the Enquirer endorsed Schmidt in last year's campaign.
"If you only read the first few sentences of the article," Krikorian told us, "you wouldn't know that she dropped four of the charges. Why isn't the fact that she dropped charges at least as important as the finding of 'probable cause' with a political board who uses a very low threshold to determine that?"
The finding of "probable cause" on several of the "false statements" allegations by the preliminary panel means that a full evidentiary hearing can move forward on September 3rd. "It's an extremely low bar," he said. "She's a sitting Congresswoman. They're gonna give her the benefit of the doubt. The threshold is very low on a 'probable cause' hearing," which Krikorian says he welcomes. He added that hopes to have Edmonds on the stand to testify during the full September hearing. Currently, Edmonds is out of the country, and may not be back in time to testify, though, she told The BRAD BLOG today, she would like to if it's possible to get an extension on the hearing.
The BRAD BLOG has obtained a copy of one of the earlier posted versions of the Enquirer article [PDF] and has compared it to the one now online following Krikorian's complaints to the paper.
The headline originally had read "Officials: Krikorian made 'false statements,'" while the current version, following pressure from Krikorian's camp, now reads "State hears Schmidt genocide case."
The first graf originally reported: "U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt's Armenian-American opponent made false statements during the 2008 campaign about contributions she received from Turkish political action committees, a unanimous three-member panel of the Ohio Elections Commission ruled today." The updated version adds the word "probably", as in "probably made false statements." Krikorian (accurately) notes that "probable cause" is not the same as "probably."
Beyond that, the only other substantive change that we noted was a the removal of the final paragraph, which had referred to a finding against Schmidt in a previous OEC "false statements" case, in which she was the defendant. The commission had found, by a 7 to 0 vote, that Schmidt had lied about having received a second undergraduate college degree from the University of Cincinnati. She had, in fact, received only one degree, despite repeated claims to the contrary on her resumes.
We've contacted the Enquirer's reporter Jon Craig, who cautions against reading anything nefarious into any of the changes. He notes that "we revise stories like ten times a day," particularly the online versions, and that the final graf was cut for space concerns in the print version, at the request of his editors.
He also notes that he's had "absolutely no interaction at all" with the Schmidt campaign concerning the story and knew of no contact with his editors either, adding that he'll normally hear from the editors if they receive such contacts and/or complaints. If we hear different word from those editors, we will, of course update this item with the new information.
The Krikorian Campaign's press release follows in full below...
Schmidt Drops Four False Statement Claims Against Krikorian
Republican Congresswoman Essentially Admits Denial of Armenian Genocide
Cincinnati, OH - August 13, 2009 - Attorneys for Jean Schmidt petitioned the court today to add a new claim after dropping four of her initial false statement charges against her Democratic opponent David Krikorian.
"Jean and her friends at the Turkish Legal Defense Fund are on a fishing expedition" said Mr. Krikorian "First she brought the charges, then she realized that she could not win her case and petitioned the court to drop the charges, now she is adding a new one. Typical Jean Schmidt behavior, its a shame she is not putting forward this kind of effort on the health care debate" said Mr. Krikorian.
The statements Schmidt claimed were false are in relation to her denial of the Armenian Genocide. In dropping the charges, Schmidt essentially conceded that she does deny the Armenian Genocide.
Jean Schmidt took more money from the Turkish Lobby during the 2008 election cycle than any other member of Congress. "Being #1 on the Turkish Lobby scoreboard has financial advantages for Jean, but what does it do for our district?" asked Mr. Krikorian adding, "We look forward to the full commission hearing in a few weeks."
A total of five false statement claims will be heard at a full commission hearing on September 3rd at the Ohio Elections Commission in Columbus.
In a related matter, The Cincinnati Enquirer, which endorsed Jean Schmidt in the previous, election is continuing to protect her with its online story about today's case emphasizing her new charge and downplaying the fact that she dropped four of her initial frivolous claims. The Enquirer changed its article after the campaign challenged their first edition. The editors of the Enquirer have consistently protected Representative Schmidt to the detriment of the citizens of the 2nd district. The phone number for the Enquirer's editorial department is (513) 768-8359.