In an article published in USA Today, Liz Essley Whyte of the Center for Public Integrity offers a detailed look at the extent of Fethullah Gülen’s political bribery in the US. The Center found that over 150 state legislators in the country accepted gifts from Gülen’s Hizmet, including lavish trips to Turkey, in exchange for favorable legislation:
State legislators who rarely get involved in foreign policy matters were courted with international trips.
The Center for Public Integrity documented the extent of the trips, which in some cases cost more than $7,000, and found that some state lawmakers who took them later introduced resolutions supporting Gulen’s controversial Hizmet movement. Some even have supported charter schools that are part of a network from the nation’s capital to California of roughly 160 taxpayer-financed schools that friends of the movement run.
While some familiar with the lawmakers’ trips frame them as innocuous learning experiences, the trips are meant to transform American community leaders into Gulen sympathizers, according to Joshua Hendrick, a sociologist at Loyola University and a leading expert on the movement.
“It most certainly has the impact of cultivating influence,” Hendrick said. “It is a political effort but it is framed as a grassroots mobilization of dialogue.”