BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
You might not have noticed that two years ago, after 30 years of “service” in the House of Representatives, Genocide denier Dan Burton of Indiana slithered over to the Azerbaijan America Alliance as its new Chairman of the Board.
Besides years of services rendered to the government of Turkey, Burton pulled an unusual stunt shortly before leaving office. In December 2012, as a lame-duck congressman in a lame duck session of Congress, he held a hearing on “Iranian Influence In the South Caucasus and the Surrounding Region” which included as speakers people who have promoted Azerbaijan, most notably Brenda Shaffer. You might recognize that name. This is the person who wrote in the NY Times about Azerbaijan without revealing her ties to SOCAR, the Azeri oil company. Interestingly, Shaffer did not disclose her SOCAR ties to that Congressional hearing, either.
Of course there couldn’t possibly be a connection between Burton’s boon to Baku and his board position, right? There’s nothing unseemly going on, right? Dirty Dan was just conducting the people’s business, right?
Well, here’s an alert. The same thing may be happening with another lame duck congressman, Steve Stockman of Texas. He ran for Senate against an incumbent from his own party, got trounced in the primary election a few months ago, and decided to retire. He has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in a criminal investigation. Even the famously innocuous House Ethics Committee has been investigating allegations that Stockman accepted campaign contributions from two staffers and falsified payroll records to hide them.
So how is Slippery Steve trying to curry favor with his potential future employers? Unlike Burton, he hasn’t (yet) convened a hearing. But he has audaciously proclaimed that, “It is unfortunate that the latest increase in tensions resulted in the downing of the helicopter of the armed forces at Armenia, which was violating the airspace of Azerbaijan. The loss of life in this incident was regrettable but the Armenian command bears much responsibility for ordering the helicopter into Azerbaijani territory,” according to an Azeri news source. That’s pretty shameless, considering the helicopter was, at worst, flying above or near the no-man’s-land between Artsakh’s and Azerbaijan’s forces.
Both of these unethical boot-lickers are examples of why, besides specifically Armenian concerns, we must also be engaged in the political world to maximize the extent of decent behavior among our elected representatives. Otherwise, the revolving door between government and the vilest of lobbyists will continue to worsen the lives of everyone. It will spin and spit out anyone pursuing an issue, a cause, legislation. Such decent citizens will be relegated to near oblivion by electeds whose only concern would become the lining of their own pockets.
Then we’d have daily déjà vu of despicable political behavior.
Get or stay involved, please.