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Tipsheet

Dr. Oz Says He'd Forego Security Clearances to Retain Dual US-Turkish Citizenship

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the TV doctor turned-Pennsylvania candidate for the United States Senate, has continued to raise eyebrows both for his comments as a Republican primary candidate and in his years of public comments before he decided to make a run at Congress. 

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Amid reports that Dr. Oz has been hedging his bets and laying the groundwork for a return to TV-land, Oz made comments about his dual U.S.-Turkish citizenship that are drawing significant criticism. 

According to a report from Politics PA, Oz told reporters on Tuesday that "he would forego certain security clearances that are provided to all U.S. Senators to keep his dual citizenship with Turkey." Oz apparently explained that he maintains his dual citizenship in order "to care for his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease."

Oz's offer is a bit confusing because, per the U.S. Constitution, there's no prohibition on dual citizens serving in Congress, and sitting members of Congress aren't granted regular clearances but rather are trusted to review classified information due to the nature of their office under threat of punishment from Senate ethics officials should they breach that trust by revealing classified information.

However, according to the Politics PA report, "the election of a person with dual citizenship might lead Congress to revise its rules in such a way as to limit the dual citizen's access to certain types of classified information." In addition, "executive branch agencies might unilaterally seek to withhold certain classified information from a dual citizen in Congress."

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So, Oz is just planning on sort of winging it on Senate matters that involve classified information he apparently is ready to forego in order to maintain his Turkish citizenship? Whether Congress or federal agencies change their rules to prevent Oz from seeing certain or all classified information, his apparent readiness to put his Senate duties in second place behind his Turkish citizenship is...troubling. 

Oz's apparent commitment to maintaining his dual citizenship has also raised questions from The Washington Post which noted "the country has never had a senator who maintains dual citizenship, served in a foreign military, and maintains deep ties to the other nation." So too has the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Rubin who told The Post that Oz's "reluctance to renounce Turkish citizenship will keep the FBI and security managers up at night."

As Trump's 2016 campaign manager and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway points out, "'Turkey First' only works on Thanksgiving."

For Pennsylvanians, the question remains why Oz would prioritize his Turkish citizenship over what he views as being able to fully fulfill his duties as a U.S. Senator. And if that's truly Oz's plan, why would Keystone State voters want someone voting on their behalf who won't be fully apprised of the information available to the Senate? How is he supposed to vote on critical issues — especially with the world on edge as it is — without having all the information that may be necessary to make an informed choice on behalf of Pennsylvanians?

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Dr. Oz's campaign manager denied the quote reported by Politics PA, but offered no transcript, video, or audio to disprove the Senate hopeful's reported statements that have since been widely reported. As any campaign veteran will tell you, whenever there are reporters around your candidate, you record the conversation to preserve the ability to disprove or clarify any misconstrued or out of context quotes reported later. Oz's campaign, evidently did not. If they do have a recording that proves Oz didn't say he was putting his dual citizenship above serving in the Senate, now would be a great time to release it. 

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