Trump-backed Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz faces increasing scrutiny over his ties to Turkey ahead of the state’s competitive GOP primaries.
Former Trump administration secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Friday called on Mr Oz to disclose “the breadth and depth of his relationship with the Turkish government”, citing concerns raised by Mr Oz’s opponent. Oz, David McCormick, in recent debates.
Mr Pompeo, who backed Mr McCormick, said Americans should be sure Mr Oz is “fit for duty”.
Mr Oz currently retains Turkish citizenship, which he said he would keep to care for his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, but said he would give up his Turkish citizenship if elected and he had no political involvement in the country.
Earlier this week, ABC News reported that Mr Oz voted in the 2018 Turkish elections. His campaign spokesperson dismissed concerns that the vote amounted to “political involvement”.
Mr. Oz also owns property in Turkey and has filmed several promotional videos for Turkish Airlines, which is part-owned by the Turkish government.
Mr. Pompeo said on Friday that Mr. Oz’s potential entanglements could constitute a national security liability if elected, as lawmakers are required to hold security clearances.
“Maybe it’s all innocent, maybe it’s all simple, but we and the people of Pennsylvania and the Americans they will represent as one of 100 members of the U.S. Senate voting on important security issues must understand the scope and depth of its relationship with the Turkish government,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Mr Oz dismissed the criticism and called his opponent’s remarks xenophobic.
Mr. Oz, a surgeon and host of the syndicated show “The Dr. Oz Show,” enjoys significant name recognition in the race for the open seat following the retirement of Republican Senator Pat Toomey – one of seven Republicans in the Senate who voted to convict former President Donald Trump in February 2021 following Mr. Trump’s impeachment after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol the previous month due to objections to the November 2020 election results.
Mr Trump endorsed Mr Oz last month, having initially endorsed Sean Parnell for the seat. Mr Parnell dropped out of the race after being accused of abuse by his ex-wife.
“He’s a good man,” Mr Trump said of Mr Oz last month. “Harvard educated. Great, great career, and they loved it for a long time. It’s like a poll. When you’re on TV for 18 years, it’s like a poll. It means people like you.
The former president has remained powerful in American politics since leaving office and is firmly committed to a Republican takeover of Congress after the 2022 midterm elections.
Mr. Trump doubled his support for Mr. Oz at a rally outside Pittsburgh on Friday.
“His show is awesome,” Mr. Trump said. “He’s on that screen. He is in the rooms of all these women who tell them about the good and the bad.
— This story includes telegraphic dispatches.