Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was warned that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would try to make contributions to the now Democratic presidential nominee, according to Podesta emails released by WikiLeaks.
"John, heard this second hand but more than once," Michael Werz, a Turkey expert wrote his old boss at the Center for American Progress in August 2015. "Seems Erdoğan faction is making substantial investments in U.S. to counter opposition (CHP, Kurds, Gulenists etc.) outreach to policymakers and USG. Am told that the Erdoğan crew also tries to make inroads via donations to Democratic candidates, including yours."
Direct donations to American political campaigns are illegal.
Werz gave Podesta two names to look out for: Mehmet Celebi and Ali Cinar.
The email was forwarded to Dennis Cheng, who is in charge of Clinton's fundraising efforts, The Washington Free Beacon reports, but the campaign already had accepted $2,700 from Cinar.
He gave another $2,000 to the Clinton campaign in August of this year, and $500 in September. He also donated $1,080 to the Democratic National Committee.
Cinar is president of the Turkish Heritage Organization that recently was investigated by the FBI after hacked emails from Erdoğan's administration showed it was lobbying on Erdoğan's behalf in the United States.
Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Steven Cook questioned at the time whether such political action violated the group's tax-exempt status. And the hacked emails also showed that Erdoğan's son-in-law, Turkey's energy minister, had direct contact with the American group over its political work, according to the Free Beacon.
Cinar became president of the organization after Halil Danizmaz resigned over the FBI investigation.
Erdoğan survived a successful coup attempt this past summer for which he has blamed an exiled Muslim cleric living in the United States.
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