Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Indiana Commerce Secretary Attending YPO Global Leadership Summit In Turkey With Ersal Ozdemir

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith and several staff members of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation are traveling this week on a four-day trade mission to Turkey. When Advance Indiana first contacted Governor Mike Pence's media office to learn more about the trade mission and those who accompanied Smith on the trip, we were directed to a spokesperson for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Katelyn Hancock. In her initial response, Hancock described the trip as "a short, targeted trip" to meet with business leaders in Turkey "to discuss potential investment opportunities in Indiana." Hanckock said "no other business leaders" from Indiana were accompanying Smith on the trip.

When Advance Indiana informed Hancock of sources claiming that Ersal Ozdemir, a politically-connected contractor and Turkish immigrant who recently announced his success at landing a professional soccer team for Indianapolis, had traveled with Smith to Turkey, she confirmed Ozdemir's participation in the trip. Hancock acknowledged that Ozdemir had traveled with Smith and IEDC officials to Istanbul "at his own expense" to help "introduce IEDC staff to leaders in the Turkish business community." Hancock added that Smith would be "presenting to business leaders at the 2013 YPO Global Leadership Summit in Istanbul," an organization of which Ozdemir is also a member and a conference he is also attending. IEDC is listed as a sponsor of this year's conference.

I've previously explained to readers of this blog how the Young Presidents Organization was first created by the CIA in the 1950s.  The CIA established the organization to introduce young leaders in foreign countries for the purpose of opening export-import talks and franchising discussions. Former President George W. Bush, whose grandfather Sen. Prescott Bush helped establish the CIA as a U.S. Senator and whose father served as one of its directors, made an unadvertised trip to Carmel in 2011 to attend a private reception at the mansion of Forest Lucas for the benefit of the Indiana chapter of the YPO.

In a very short period of time, Ozdemir's business career has seen a meteoric rise as he's lavished large campaign contributions on Indiana's top politicians, who have in turn rewarded him with large government contracts and public subsidies for his private real estate development projects. The Indianapolis Business Journal has described Ozdemir as a person with "deep pockets," although it's very unclear how he amassed such wealth, particularly when he was struggling financially just a decade ago.

Ozdemir's meteoric rise and influence in Indiana politics is strikingly similar to Tony Rezko's meteoric rise in Chicago politics. Rezko, like Ozdemir, was a civil engineer by trade who immigrated from Syria. After Rezko was ensnared in the public corruption investigation of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, it was revealed that a billionaire Iraqi businessman, Nadhmir Auchi, had funneled nearly $200 million to Rezko to aid him in developing his business and political influence sphere in Chicago. Rezko was convicted by federal prosecutors in the same public corruption investigation that yielded convictions against Blagojevich and other Illinois state officials and influential business leaders.

1 comment:

CircleCityScribe said...

...I just don't think of Turkey, (instead I think of a third-world country), when I think of INDIANA's economic development.

That said: Why is Indiana sending our State Officers there?????