A congresswoman's lawsuit against a local businessman and onetime political opponent is featured in an article today on the popular Politico website.
U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township) is suing David Krikorian, who ran as an independent against Schmidt in 2008 for Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District and also unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for the same seat last year. He lost that race to Surya Yalamanchili, a former contestant on a reality TV show who lost the general election to Schmidt by capturing 35 percent of the vote.
Schmidt is suing Krikorian for defamation and seeking $6.8 million in damages. During the '08 campaign, Krikorian distributed a pamphlet alleging Schmidt had received “blood money” from the Turkish government in return for her opposition to a congressional resolution that declared Turkey committed genocide against Armenia during a 1915 conflict.
Politico writer Alex Isenstadt described Schmidt's lawsuit as miring the congresswoman “in politically treacherous territory as a legal battle she launched drags into its third year.”
Last summer Krikorian filed an ethics complaint against Schmidt for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars to help pay her legal fees, without reporting the gift as required by federal law. A major nonprofit group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is supporting his effort.
Politico's article details Schmidt's ties to the Turkish government.
It states: “...The Turkish Coalition of America has emerged as one of her top contributors, funneling $7,500 to her 2010 reelection campaign through its political action committee, after donating $7,600 to her in the previous cycle. After Schmidt defeated Krikorian in 2008, the organization sent out a celebratory news release, congratulating Schmidt and blasting Krikorian for waging a 'malicious campaign.'
"She’s also become a frequent visitor to Turkey. Since 2008, Schmidt and her chief of staff, Barry Bennett, have taken four trips there, according to Legistorm, a website that monitors congressional spending. The cost of the trips — two of which were sponsored by the Turkish Coalition of America — totaled more than $35,000.”
As is her usual method for dealing with the media, Schmidt declined comment for the article.
The leader of an Armenian-American group said Schmidt's lawsuit reveals her true motivation.
“There is a reason why the congresswoman is dedicating so much time and attention to David Krikorian, and the reason has nothing to do with what’s happening in Cincinnati,” said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America. “It has to do with what’s happening in Ankara.”