Obama’s Nominee for Azerbaijan Ambassadorship Misleads Congress on the Issues of Conflict of Interest & Questionable Ties
In response to questions at the hearing that he was too close to Azerbaijani Government officials with highly questionable ties, Matt Bryza remained evasive and provided half-answer responses while denying any special ties or conflicts of interest due to his controversial and scandalous Neocon wife, Zeyno Baran. After the hearing Bryza submitted even more evasive and incomplete answers to a series of questions submitted separately by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Particularly on one significant issue related to his questionable ties and conflict of interest related to his wife’s intimate relationship and position, Bryza may have actually perjured himself.
During his confirmation hearings Bryza tried very hard to assure Congress that there were no reasons whatsoever to worry about conflict of interest(s) based on his marriage to Zeyno Baran, and that she had given up all positions and involvements related to Azerbaijan. At the hearing, he said that his marriage would present no conflict of interest, and that a thorough State Department vetting of his finances found nothing untoward. He said Baran would not influence his positions as ambassador, and that any common positions they held were the result of kindred spirits.
In all this, Bryza conveniently forgot to report or even mention his wife’s official position as a member of the editorial board of an Azerbaijani government institution, the journal Azerbaijan Focus: Journal of International Affairs. And guess what, according to its website, Azerbaijan Focus “is a publication of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.”
Now, how could Bryza forget this mammoth conflict of interest, and do so despite being put under the direct spotlight with even more direct questions on this specific topic regarding his controversial bride?! Guess who happen to be Zeyno Baran’s colleagues at this position?
Ms. Baran serves on the editorial board along with several Azerbaijani government officials including Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Chairman of the Editorial Board Ramiz Mehdiyev, Head of the Administration of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Hafiz Pashayev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
In July I wrote a rather long article on Bryza’s background, the issues surrounding his Neocon wife, and their scandalous and lavish wedding in Turkey. Considering Zeyno Baran’s position at this journal owned and operated by the Azerbaijani government, no wonder the two investigative Azerbaijani journalists who uncovered and reported Bryza Wedding’s Azerbaijani guests and financiers were beaten up, arrested, and jailed for their exposé!!!! The reporters brought the needed attention to Bryza’s certain special guests, who happened to be political figureheads from Azerbaijan, and the special gifts and financial contributions by them to Bryza’s bride and her nearly quarter million dollar wedding expenses.
But wait, there is more! In addition to serving on a board of an Azerbaijani government institution, there is this not so insignificant question on funding of Mrs. Bryza’s employer, the Center for Eurasian Policy at the Hudson Institute. Mr. Bryza has stated, many times, on the record, that his bride has been on leave without pay from the Hudson Institute since June 1, 2009. However, there are numerous instances where Ms.Baran has been listed as an active employee of the Hudson Institute since that date, including as recently as August 2010.
As for funding of Mrs. Bryza’s employer? Well, no one seems to know, and those who really want to know have been blocked from finding out. The infamous Hudson Institute is pretty well-known for its tight-lipped policies on the sources of its funding. To this date, despite inquiries, they have not responded to questions regarding funding from Azerbaijani businesses or foundations or corporations with an interest in Azerbaijan. However we know this much:
-In 2007, the Hudson Institution’s Center for Eurasian Policy, hosted a conference, titled “The Azerbaijan- Turkey- US Relationship and its Importance for Eurasia.”
-According to their own published “Event Summary and Conclusions,” this event was financed by a foreign entity, the “Azerbaijan-Turkey Business Association,” with direct financial interests in Turkey and Azerbaijan.
-The majority of speakers at this conference, held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, were officials from the Azerbaijani and Turkish governments.
Now how is that our Mr. Bryza fails to report and account for these crucial facts? Further, shouldn’t his official responses to the specific questions asked on these issues be considered perjury? Because being evasive and wishy-washy go only so far in explaining the absence of these facts. At some point, someone in Congress will hopefully look into the real meaning and implications of Bryza’s foolish attempts to dodge questions meant to determine his suitability for this job. Evasive? Or just plain perjury?