Trump-backed Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz is facing increasing scrutiny over his ties to Turkey as the state’s competitive GOP primary approaches.
Former Secretary of State under the Trump administration Mike Pompeo on Friday called on Mr. Oz to disclose the “scope and depth of his relationship with the Turkish government,” piling on concerns raised by Mr. Oz’s opponent David McCormick in recent debates.
Mr. Pompeo, who has endorsed Mr. McCormick, said Americans should be sure Mr. Oz is “fit for duty.”
Mr. Oz currently maintains citizenship in Turkey, which he said he maintains to care for his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s, but said he will renounce his Turkish citizenship if elected and that he has no political involvement in the country.
Earlier this week, ABC News reported that Mr. Oz voted in Turkey’s 2018 election. 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 owned, in part, by the Turkish government.
Mr. Pompeo said on Friday that Mr. Oz’s potential entanglements could amount to a national security liability if elected, as lawmakers are required to hold security clearances.
“Maybe it’s all innocent, maybe it’s all straight up, but we and the people of Pennsylvania and the Americans who he will be representing as one of the 100 members of the United States Senate voting on important national security matters need to understand the scope and depth of his relationship with the Turkish government,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Mr. Oz has dismissed the criticism and called the remarks by his opponent xenophobic.
Mr. Oz, a surgeon and host of the syndicated “The Dr. Oz Show,” carries significant name recognition in the race for the open seat after 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 month prior over objections to the November 2020 election results.
Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Oz last month, after initially endorsing Sean Parnell for the seat. Mr. Parnell dropped out of the race after being accused of abuse by his former wife.
“He’s a good man,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Oz last month. “Harvard educated. Tremendous, a tremendous career, and they liked him for a long time. That’s like a poll. When you’re on television for 18 years, that’s like a poll. That means people like you.”
The former president has remained powerful in U.S. politics since leaving office and is dead set on a Republican takeover in Congress following the 2022 midterms.
Mr. Trump doubled down in support of Mr. Oz at a rally outside of Pittsburgh on Friday.
“His show is great,” Mr. Trump said. “He’s on that screen. He’s in the bedrooms of all those women telling them good and bad.”
— This story includes wire reporting.