A 2011 article in The Santa Fe New Mexican reveals that several elected officials in New Mexico have been flown to Turkey on trips bankrolled by the Gülenist Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians. The trips came shortly after the founding of the Albuquerque School of Excellence, a Gülen-affiliated charter school:
Steve Terrell Some Roundhouse regulars’ heads were turned in January when they saw the flag of Turkey flying above the Capitol in place of the New Mexico flag.
I jokingly suggested in my blog that the state was trying to fix the state budget problem by renting out our flagpoles to other countries. But the truth is that seven Turkish congressmen were in town to meet with the governor, legislators and other state officials.
Turks seemed to be everywhere during the session. During the past two sessions, there have been “Turkish-New Mexican Friendship Receptions” in Santa Fe with host committees that included several state officers and legislators.
And in recent months, the Turkish-New Mexico connection has grown stronger. State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, who recently got back from a 10-day Turkish trip with several New Mexico journalists, said Wednesday that he’s just one of several legislators who have traveled to Turkey courtesy of a private group.
Raul Burciaga, executive director of the Legislative Council Service, confirmed Wednesday that the state isn’t paying for any of the Turkish trips. Legislative leaders in recent weeks have been talking about cutting back on out-of-state travel because of the budget crunch.
So who is paying? The cost of the travel isn’t readily available. Because the state isn’t paying for it, lawmakers don’t have to file travel vouchers or other records with the state, Burciaga said.
The group that instigated the Turkish trips is the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians
Phone calls to the Houston-based group weren’t returned Wednesday.
The group plans to build a Turkish cultural center in Albuquerque, which would be affiliated with the Raindrop Turkish House in Houston.