Former Democratic House Majority Leader Turned Lobbyist Dick Gephardt Pivoted from Fully Supporting Armenian Genocide Legislation to Taking Turkish Government Money to Block U.S. Recognition Of Armenian Genocide
LOS ANGELES—The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is encouraged that Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) is terminating a contract worth over $845,000 with Gephardt Government Relations, a firm which serves as a registered foreign agent for Turkey and a major tool in efforts to deny the Armenian Genocide. Late last year, the ANCA-WR called upon Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to end any ties between the City of Los Angeles and Dick Gephardt, a known genocide denier, including a contract he had with LAWA. A seven-member Board of Airport Commissioners, six of whom were appointed last year by Mayor Eric Garcetti and approved by the Los Angeles City Council, governs LAWA.
“Since leaving Congress where he worked hard to pass Armenian Genocide resolutions, and now becoming a paid lobbyist, Dick Gephardt has gotten rich earning huge sums of money from the Turkish Government to lobby his former colleagues to deny justice for the Armenian Genocide in a complete reversal of his position on the issue. As a Genocide denier, he doesn’t deserve a single dollar from the citizens of Los Angeles, and should have no association with our great city,” said ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian. “We applaud LAWA and City of Los Angeles officials for their principled stand enforcing a zero-tolerance policy against deniers of genocide. LAWA’s action reflects the highest standards of good governance and reinforces the proud standing of Los Angeles as a leader – nationally and internationally – on issues of genocide-prevention and human rights.”
According to U.S. Government documents obtained by the ANCA-WR and cited in support of its request, Gephardt Government Relations had a contract worth over $845,000 with LAWA, which was agreed to in 2012 during the term of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Meanwhile, since the approval of the contract with LAWA, Gephardt Government Affairs has been drawing over $23,000 a month for its work for the airport while simultaneously representing the interests of the Turkish Government against the interests of the Armenian-American community. Gephardt has made a name for himself on Capitol Hill by trading on his congressional connections for his work on behalf of the Republic of Turkey. As documents filed with the U.S. Department of Justice under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (which regulates the lobbying activity of those who advocate on behalf of foreign interests in the United States) reveal, Gephardt himself has had to disclose the fact that he acts on Turkey’s behalf as an ardent opponent of legislative efforts to fully recognize the Armenian Genocide.
New York Times writer and author of “This Town” Mark Leibovich outed Gephardt in 2013 for his hypocrisy on the Armenian Genocide. In a television interview later that year, Bill Moyers asked Leibovich about Gephardt’s stand on the Armenian Genocide. “In the House [of Representatives] he [Gephardt] had supported a resolution condemning the Armenian Genocide of 1915. When he left Congress he was paid about $75,000 a month to oppose the resolution,” Moyers commented. Leibovich responded by sharing, “Yes. I guess the word genocide goes down a little easier at those rates.” Also in 2013, Christopher Buckley, the son of William F. Buckley, wrote a review of “This Town” in The New York Times in which he cited Gephardt’s genocide denial efforts. “There are a number of sanctimonious standout “formers” in Leibovich’s Congressional hall of shame, but just to name a few exemplars who gleefully inhabit ethical no-worry zones and execute brisk 180-¬degree switcheroos on any issue, including the Armenian genocide, so long as it pays: Dick Gephardt…”
In his most recent anti-Armenian actions on Capitol Hill, Dick Gephardt aggresively lobbied against H.R. 4347 in the 113th Congress, a House measure to return Christian churches in Turkey to their rightful owners. Last year he also did the bidding of his lucrative Turkish Government client by fighting against a U.S. Senate resolution on the Armenian Genocide authored by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Despite Gephardt’s opposition, the Armenian Genocide bill advanced by Senator Menendez in April of last year was ultimately adopted by the full Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a vote of 12 to 5.
The move by the ANCA-WR to seek termination of LAWA’s contract with Gephardt coincided with the launch of a nationwide campaign by a coalition of Armenian American groups, including the ANCA, to pressure Gephardt, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Dickstein Shapiro, LLC), Greenberg Traurig, Alpaytac, and LB International to stop advancing the Turkish Government’s Armenian Genocide denial agenda or face public scrutiny and protest. The effort was launched on January 29th, with over 200 letters sent to Turkey’s lobbying firms and the top businesses, universities, and NGOs who use their services, giving them until February 28th to drop their association with Turkey’s genocide denial or end their relationships with these public relations firms. Among those receiving letters were PepsiCo, TIME Inc., Amazon, and the Chrysler Corporation, in addition to many others.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.