Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a rare rebuke of a Trump-backed candidate, breaking with his former boss to accuse Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz of dangerously close ties to the Turkish government.
Pompeo, who endorsed Oz's chief rival Dave McCormick, cited reports that Oz voted in the 2018 Turkish elections instead of U.S. ones as evidence that the television personality, who holds dual citizenship, poses a security risk if elected.
“Maybe it’s all innocent, [or] maybe it’s all straight up, but we and the people of Pennsylvania and the Americans who he will be representing as one of the 100 members of the United States Senate voting on important national security matters need to understand the scope and depth of his relationship with the Turkish government,” Pompeo said at a briefing Friday.
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A photo shared by a spokesperson for McCormick with the Washington Examiner showed Oz voting in the presidential election in Turkey in June 2018.
Oz also owns property in Turkey, and he has an endorsement contract with Turkish Airlines, a company that is 49% owned by the Turkish government, Pompeo alleged. He has at least three real estate investments in the country, including one property he leases to the Ministry of Education, McCormick's spokesperson said, citing Oz’s personal financial disclosure.
Pompeo's remarks were "pathetic and xenophobic attacks," according to Oz’s campaign, which accused the McCormick camp of resorting to "sad and desperate attacks that are no different than the tropes used against Catholics and Jews."
“Dr. Oz has already said, when elected to the Senate, he would renounce his citizenship. There is no security issue whatsoever, and David McCormick knows that," Oz spokeswoman Brittany Yanick said.
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Both candidates heavily courted the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, whose backing has been met with a 55-0 record in this year's primary elections.
Trump, who endorsed Oz in April, will appear at a rally for Oz on Friday. Ohio GOP Senate nominee J.D. Vance, who is also endorsed by Trump, is expected to attend.