Pompeo Bastes Oz Over Turkey Ties

Former CIA director says Pennsylvania Senate candidate's ties to Erdogan's government raise national security concerns

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks with doctor Mehmet Oz
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks with doctor Mehmet Oz / Getty Images
May 6, 2022

Former CIA director and secretary of state Mike Pompeo wants celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz to talk Turkey. Speaking at a press conference Friday, the ex-spy chief said the Pennsylvania Senate candidate owes voters an explanation about his decision to vote in the 2018 Turkish presidential election while skipping New Jersey’s Senate primary the same month.

Pompeo argued that Oz’s ties to the Turkish government raise serious national security concerns. "There are still things we don't know about his connections to the Turkish government," Pompeo told reporters at the event, arranged by GOP candidate Dave McCormick's campaign. Some national security experts say Oz's political and financial ties to Turkey could give Ankara leverage over him if elected.

Pompeo's remarks came in a call with reporters on Friday organized by Oz's opponent in the Pennsylvania Senate primary, David McCormick.

Oz, who is running neck and neck with McCormick, has come under fire for serving in the Turkish military and over his interactions with Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Trump-endorsed candidate reluctantly agreed to give up his dual Turkish citizenship, saying he would do so if elected in November.

Pompeo focused heavily on Oz's June 2018 vote in the Turkish presidential race, saying it raises questions about Oz's "priorities." Oz's vote, which he cast at the Turkish consulate in New York City, seemingly contradicted his claim to have "never been politically involved in Turkey in any capacity." Pompeo also asserted Oz skipped a vote in a Republican primary just days before he voted in the Turkish presidential contest.

"The campaign owes the people of Pennsylvania an explanation for this," Pompeo said.

Oz's voting records from New Jersey, where he resided before entering the Pennsylvania race, indicate he did not cast a vote in a primary election held on June 5, 2018. Oz voted in the Turkish election on June 13, 2018, according to a photo posted on the Turkish consulate's Facebook account.

While Pompeo focused on Oz's ties to Turkey, his business activities in China have also raised red flags. Oz raked in millions of dollars selling rights to his television show in China. He cowrote a book last year with the president of a Chinese university controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. The project was related to Oz's investment in a Chinese health and wellness company. He also appeared on Chinese state-run television to criticize Trump-era trade policies against China.

Oz's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.