Former Congresswoman faces fine for not reporting legal assistance from pro-Turkish group

Former Republican Congresswoman Jean Schmidt faces a $2,500 fine for not reporting legal assistance provided by a pro-Turkish group, reports.

The Turkish Coalition of America Inc., which aided Schmidt in several legal disputes connected to her political career, will pay a $25,000 fine, the Federal Election Commission said in its letter to all parties in the matter.

The June 10 agreement with the FEC comes nearly five years after Schmidt political opponent David Krikorian leveled the accusation, part of a multi-front battle between the two over Schmidt’s support of Turkey in Congress and Krikorian’s characterizations about her support.

Neither Schmidt or Krikorian are in politics anymore, but the battle has continued, long after voters rejected them both. Schmidt beat Krikorian in 2008 to keep her 2nd Congressional District seat but later lost the 2012 Republican primary to now-Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Columbia Tusculum.

Schmidt reported she had repaid Turkish Coalition of America $42,812 in legal fees and expenses, but in fact, the TCA provided free legal services to Schmidt worth $651,244 in several cases from 2008 to 2011, the FEC said. Schmidt was represented by TCA’s legal arm, the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund.

“We are pleased that this matter was resolved in the manner that explains the mitigating circumstances and the ambiguous state of the law,” said David Saltzman, legal counsel for the Turkish Coalition of America. “Rather than litigate this matter, the Turkish Coalition of America agreed to settle on favorable terms and thereby keeps its focus on its programs that help foster understanding and cooperation across the globe.”

“With these actions, the FEC has finally delivered a small measure of justice,” said Krikorian in an emailed statement. “The Turkish Coalition of America should have its ‘charitable’ status revoked for its willful and egregious violations of campaign finance law.”

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