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Pompeo raises fears of Senate candidate's ties to Turkey, overlooking other dual citizens in Congress

GREENSBURG, PA - MAY 06: Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz joins former President Donald Trump onstage during a rally in support of his campaign at the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds on May 6, 2022 in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Former President Trump endorsed Dr. Oz in the Pennsylvania Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate over his top opponent David McCormick. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz joins former President Donald Trump onstage during a rally in support of his campaign at the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds on May 6, 2022 in Greensburg, Pennsylvania [Jeff Swensen/Getty Images]

The former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has raised concerns over a Senate candidate's alleged ties to the Turkish government, claiming his aims and "priorities" may not be in the interests of the US.

Mehmet Oz, also popularly known as Dr Oz, is being endorsed by former President Trump as a candidate in the Pennsylvania Senate race.

At a press briefing arranged by Oz's chief opponent Dave McCormick, however, former Secretary of State Pompeo stated that "We criticize American candidates all the time because they didn't vote. This is different from that. Not only did he not engage in the American [political process] but he engaged in the Turkish political process. That raises in my mind a lot of judgments about his priority."

Although Oz is a dual citizen and holds Turkish citizenship, he insists that he only keeps it in order to easily care for his "ailing mother" in Turkey. He has also said that if he is elected he will give up and renounce his Turkish citizenship.

Oz has been subject to severe scrutiny over the fact that he skipped a Senate primary election back in June 2018 while voting in Turkey's presidential race a few days after that. He has repeatedly denied, however, that the vote amounted to or that he ever had any "political involvement" in Turkey.

Pompeo also brought up the fact that Oz owns property in Turkey and has an ambassadorship contract with Turkish Airlines. "This isn't about whether it's lawful, it's about who is best suited to be the next United States senator from Pennsylvania that's been represented by a patriotic American conservative for an awfully long time," the former official said.

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"Maybe it's all innocent, maybe it's all straight up, but we and the people of Pennsylvania and the Americans who he will be representing as one of the 100 members of the United States Senate voting on important national security matters need to understand the scope and depth of his relationship with the Turkish government."

Oz's team hit back at the remarks by Pompeo and McCormick, with the retired doctor's campaign communications director Brittany Yanick saying a statement that "These are pathetic and xenophobic attacks on Dr Oz by David McCormick, who should be ashamed of himself."

She called the accusations "sad and desperate attacks that are no different than the tropes used against Catholics and Jews. Dr Oz has already said when elected to the Senate he would renounce his citizenship. There is no security issue whatsoever, and David McCormick knows that Dr Oz has maintained his dual citizenship to make it easier to help care for his mother who has Alzheimer's and lives there."

Pompeo's questioning of Oz's political allegiances and loyalties may seem hypocritical to many, as it seems to overlook the fact that several members of Congress hold dual citizenship with other countries without their loyalties being questioned.

When it comes to political ties with foreign states, too, many members of Congress have strong ties with the likes of Israel and its network of lobby groups in the US, in a "special relationship" that has prospered for decades.

Throughout his term as Secretary of State under the administration of former president Donald Trump, Pompeo took a particularly harsh tone against Turkey and its interests, often criticising the Turkish government's regional moves while opposing it in its disputes with France and Greece in regards to the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean or Syria.

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