[Updated] Copies of the motion to dismiss and added claim appear at the end of this article.
By Thomas C. Nash
COLUMBUS, Ohio — During a probable cause hearing on August 13, the legal team for Rep. Jean Schmidt dropped four of the eight false statement charges relating to Armenian Genocide denial against election rival David Krikorian and added one more.
Schmidt, an incumbent Republican representing Ohio’s second district, initially charged then-independent candidate David Krikorian with making false statements during the 2008 election season.
Schmidt took issue with the Krikorian campaign’s distribution of a flyer stating she had taken $30,000 in “blood money” to “deny the genocide of Christian Armenians by Muslim Turks” as co-chair of the Caucus on US Turkish Relations and Turkish Americans.
While Schmidt, a four-year incumbent, won the election by a wide margin, Krikorian contends she filed a “false claims” complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission in April after learning that he was seeking the Democratic nomination as her opponent in 2010.
“It was clear the decision to file against me was because I would likely be her opponent in 2010,” Krikorian said last week. “I think she correctly surmised that if I received an 18 percent vote as an independent, she looked at the numbers and said, ‘I’m in trouble.’”
According to July figures, Schmidt has raised $185,000 in the second quarter of 2009 while Krikorian has a total of $48,000 in his campaign account.
So far, the only other Democratic challenger in the 2010 race is Ohio State Rep. Todd Book, who has been endorsed by Gov. Ted Strickland.
A copy of the motion to dismiss filed by Schmidt attorney Donald Brey focuses on the four charges related to Krikorian’s claim that Schmidt denies the Armenian Genocide. According to Brey’s argument in the memorandum, he determined Krikorian made the assertion out of ignorance to her position after he gave a deposition on the issue to Schmidt’s legal team.
“Although those statements [by Krikorian] were and are false,” the memorandum stated, “the evidence produced at [the] deposition suggests that he may not have known those statements were false at the time that he made them.”
Brey added that Krikorian alluded to third party sources in citing Schmidt’s position, although she is on record as saying there is not enough historical data to classify the Armenian massacres as “genocide.”
Since Krikorian relied on others’ characterizations of Schmidt’s position, Schmidt’s legal team says it would be difficult to prove “he made those statements with reckless disregard of their truth or falsity.”
The accusations regarding Krikorian’s “blood money” claim – including that it is a matter of public record – remain in the complaint. Campaign disclosure forms show she has taken money from several Turkish organizations.
Added to the list of false claims on July 21 was a statement from the November campaign season from Krikorian in which he tied in Schmidt’s activities with attacks on US soldiers.
“I ask the people of Ohio’s second congressional district to ask themselves if our Representative should be taking money from a foreign government that is killing our soldiers?” Krikorian wrote in a letter posted on his campaign’s blog.
Asked why the claim had been omitted from the original complaint, Brey said he had intended to submit it with the others.
“I realized that I failed to include it,” he said.
In support of the accusations, on August 8 Krikorian’s legal team — which includes celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos — received testimony from FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, who since 2002 has called attention to what she says are the bureau’s lax standards and knowledge of treasonous activities committed by US government officials.
Many of those officials she has named include members of Congress who worked on behalf of the Turkish government. Some, like former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, became registered lobbyists for the Turkish government after leaving office.
Krikorian said he wonders whether Schmidt’s decision to file the election complaint was in fact made by the Turkish government.
“Based on some of the stuff that we heard in Edmonds testimony, it’s clear that the Turkish government does or did at least anyway actively blackmail members of the US congress,” he said.
Schmidt is expected to give a deposition to Krikorian’s legal team next week.