Over the last several years Kansas Legislators have been among some 6000 American officials and civic leaders treated to expense paid vacations by Turks seeking to gain political favors.
According to Sophia Pandya & Nancy Gallagher in their 2012 book “The Gulen Hizmet Movement and Its Transnational Activities”, “To date more than 6000 Americans have traveled to Turkey at the invitation of Hizmet institutes and have returned to support the activities of the Turkish immigrant circles.”
The typical Gulenist trip is 9-10 days. The costs reported run from $3400-$9,000. If the average trip runs $5000, Turkish/Gulen organizations have already invested over $30 Million in American politicians from the local, to state, and national levels. This doesn’t count campaign contributions from these organizations, or individuals within those into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This begs the question, “What is Turkey’s interest, or the interest of Gulen organizations in Kansas, the United States, and other Western nations?” No other foreign national delegation or organization has been so aggressive or shown such interest in Kansas officials.
Consider the following possible answers:
- Winning the hearts and minds of American officials to favor Turkey friendly legislation
- Charter Schools – Gain more charters in more states (Already 151 Turkish run charter schools in 26 states) worth millions in taxpayer funding and contracts for foreign based companies.
- Improved perception of Islam through “Interfaith Dialog” (Another Fethullah Gulen founded institution) by American politicians. Islam calls it “dawah”, their version of “missionary work”. Gulenists refer to it as “Hizmet”.
- Advancement of the Islamic settlement strategy outlined in the “Explanatory Memorandum on the Strategic Goal for the [Muslim Brotherhood] in North America”, 1991. (Exhibit 003-0085, US vs. Holy Land Foundation, July, 2007) 
Turkish Politics and Kansas Ties
The Turkish Friendship Network Resolution (HR6013) offered on Mar 7, 2012, stated many wonderful things about how Turkey shared the United States interests in “cherishing the universal values of freedom, democracy and human rights…and has demonstrated…tolerance of others in the secular and religious venues…”. These statements are misleading if not blatantly false. Turkey has faced a number of issues which has kept it out of the European Union, not the least of which is human rights issues, including freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. Furthermore, Turkish journalists have been jailed for speaking out against the current government, which has become increasingly “Islamized” in recent years.
The resolution (6013) began by speaking of Turkey as a “secular…republic“, which, while for the previous 70-80 years it was indeed a secular government, balanced by a secular military which enforced that secularist state, in 2002 an Islamist sympathizing party known as AKP (Justice and Development Party) gained a majority of seats in Parliament, and still holds the majority as well as the Presidency and Prime Ministry.
On Feb. 22, 2010, 49 Turkish Military Officers were arrested, preempting military action that had historically kept the government of Turkey balanced in opposition to Islamists, sending a new message that this government will not tolerate opposition from civilian or military dissidents. (See this article in Foreign Policy Magazine by Turkish writer Sonar Cagaptay.)
The Constitution of The Republic of Turkey may be secular in letter but the government itself is no longer secular in practice. Researcher Bingul Durbas, PhD researcher for the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, says that “honor killings” in Turkey have risen 14 fold since 2002.
An article by Steven Elwart (The Gulen Movement)gives a good summary of Gulen’s activities in the US revealing that Gulen groups in America such as Raindrop House, have strong ties to AKP politicians in Turkey, and most if not all those Parliament members attending the Turkic-(your state) receptions held in many American cities belong to AKP (Justice and Development Party-a decidedly Islamist majority party in Turkey’s government).
Of late the Turks seem more interested in promoting Azerbaijan than Turkey, perhaps due to a lot of attention Turkey has been getting in the media, concerning not only the Islamization of the government, and it’s slow and tepid response against ISIS, but its own continued human rights violations that run smack in the face of the “Friendship Resolutions” that are peddled in state houses around the country and are becoming less likely to be received. It may also run parallel to the Fethullah Gulen’s fallout with the Turkish government  recently, over accusations of “bugging” of government offices resulting in many of his followers in Turkey being arrested, interrogated or imprisoned along with any other journalists who had been criticizing the Erdogen government.
More recently, the alleged “coup” in Turkey has been laid at the feet of Gulen as President Recip Tayyip Erdogen continues his purge of Gulen followers. The interesting thing is that while the Turkish Delegation in America won’t criticize the Turkish government, they remain in full allegiance to Fethullah Gulen, who owns some 20 media outlets and at least 300 schools inside Turkey, and over 1,000 worldwide. These institutions inside Turkey have been banned since Erdogen’s purge began. The “coup” attempt led to 240 deaths in July of 2016. Since then, Erdogen’s Islamist government has fired 100,000 people and jailed 32,000 in an effort to root out Gulen supporters accused of sedition. The “coup” has been a prime opportunity for Erdogen to eliminate his chief rival’s support system and consolidate his own power base. (The two basically want the same thing, a caliphate, but Erdogen felt threatened by Gulen’s huge support mechanism and popularity, so he had to be rendered a non-threat. If there is to be a caliphate absorbing post-Assad Syria, Iraq, and whatever else comes together, Erdogen wants to be the Sultan. Swirling allegations of Gulen being used by CIA to effect a change in the attitudes of the students, particularly in Central and Southern Asia may also be fueling Erdogen’s aggressive actions toward Gulen’s massive network.) Erdogen has also begun to attack Gulen schools around the world as terror cells, and has, once again appealed to President Obama to extradite Gulen. He has filed a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency against Harmony Public Schools, and asked education officials in California and Texas to investigate any schools tied to the Gulen organizations.
The Gulen School network, known as Hizmet (Service), has flourished in the United States
since Gulen’s arrival in 1999. Names like Harmony Public Schools, Horizon Academy, Frontier, Daisy, Magnolia, and a plethora of other unimposing, monikers take in the Hizmet schools. The largest, Harmony, has over 45 charter schools in the state of Texas alone. So far, there are none in Kansas, although they are in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado.
These charters are publicly funded with tax dollars, and have been subject to FBI investigations, continuous audits, and several school closures due to illegal mishandling of funds. Contracts to build schools usually go through Cosmos Foundation and are awarded to Turkish construction companies. In the two year period from 2009 to 2011, six charter school contracts worth over $50 million were given to a new company called TDM and one other. TDM was only one month old when awarded its first charter school contract worth over $8 million.
Besides the huge contracts going to foreign companies, faculty is being brought in from Turkey on H1B1 visas, because the administrators claim there are no qualified American teachers. Thousands of Turkish teachers have been rotated through this program, some whose English is unintelligible, as revealed in a CBS 60 Minutes segment by Leslie Stahl in 2012. This particular individual was hired to teach English. This appears to be a money maker for the Hizmet as well, since the Turkish teachers, well paid, are required to give large percentages of their salaries back to the organization [Sometimes 40-50%]. (State auditors in Ohio found that a number of schools had “illegally expended” public funding to pay legal, immigration, and air-travel fees for nonemployees and retained teachers who lacked proper licenses. Audited records from the Horizon Science Academy in Cincinnati in May 2009 also say that “for the period of time under audit, 47 percent (nine of 19) of the school’s teachers were not properly licensed.”)
Gulen network groups like Raindrop Turkish House and Turquoise Council of American Eurasions (TCAE) continue their public relations campaign on the local and state level throughout the United States. Award dinners and breakfasts will continue to be held to stroke public servants from the city council to the fire department, from the local library to the university deans. They will continue to walk the halls of the Capital building in Topeka and other states, shaking hands and politicking legislators, winning friends who will carry resolutions, which may eventually lead to binding legislation allowing Harmony or Horizon to build their first charter school in Kansas. Several Kansas Legislators including Sidney Carlin, Joan Pottorf, Niles Dilmore, James Todd, Chris Steineger, Vern Swanson, and Tom Moxley have already seen the tour of Turkey compliments of their hosts led by Sellahattin Aydin, a regular at Topeka. Unlike other tours though, the legislators had to pay their own airfare, which would have constituted a “gift” illegal to elected officials.
Kansas Watchdog published an article on May 11, 2010 entitled “Ethics: Legislators cannot pay for Turkey trips with campaign funds”.
“The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission in a special teleconference meeting scheduled for Monday afternoon ruled that Kansas legislators could not use their campaign accounts to pay a $1300 portion for a trip to Turkey organized by the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians.
“The Commission could not find a connection between the trip, which was largely for site [sic] seeing, and a legislator’s duties as an elected official.” 
[All other expenses inside Turkey were paid by the TCAE, Institute for Interfaith Dialog, and/or affiliates.]
Besides the FBI investigations into the school network, these organizations have been subject to media investigations, including USA Today’s most recent release, revealing Congressional ethics violations and irregularities in reporting Congressional travel expenses for those members who took advantage of the offers of travel.
Ultimately, according to some scholars, the Gulen movement is about more than just teaching children. “The main purpose right now”, says Dr. Hakan Yavuz, a Turkish-born assistant professor at the University of Utah’s Middle East Center, “is to show the positive side of Islam and to make Americans sympathize with Islam.”