Interior Ministry investigates AKP’s Ankara mayoral candidate for using public funds during campaign

Turkey’s Interior Ministry has launched an investigation into ruling AKP’s Ankara mayoral candidate Turgut Altınok for using public funds amounting to six million liras in his election campaign during his tenure as a district mayor before the 2024 local elections.

Duvar English

Turkish Interior Ministry has been investigating Turgut Altınok, the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) mayoral candidate for Ankara Municipality in 2024 local elections, for using public funds of the district municipality that he held. 

Altınok was the mayor of the capital Ankara’s Keçiören district before losing the elections to main-opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Mansur Yavaş in the race for the metropolitan municipality.

Tolga Şardan from the online news outlet T24 reported that the district municipality was found to have paid for the fuel for the AKP-owned vehicles used by Altınok in local election campaigns. 

The newly elected mayor of Keçiören District from the CHP had first launched an internal investigation about municipality's spending during Altınok’s tenure.

After the internal probe, the new mayoral administration applied to Interior Ministry for further investigation. The ministry’s inspector found that Altıok used public funds for his election campaign.

The inspector obtained CCTV recording showing that the fuel oil, which was delivered to the municipality's vehicles at the facility in the Transport Services Directorate, was also used by Altınok's election vehicles involved in his propaganda activities.

The inspector suspended the municipality's director of cleaning and transport department..

Municipality sources told journalist that the financial value of the fuel used by Altınok in his election campaigns was approximately six million liras ($184,000).

As part of the investigation, the inspector took the testimony of Kazım Kabadayı, the deputy mayor, and some executives in Altınok's close circle.

The inspector also put promotional activities during Altınok's term under the scrutiny due to high expenditures. The inspector took the statement of Sabiha Akdemir, the deputy mayor responsible on press and publicity.

Akdemir was previously a staff member of the General Directorate of state broadcaster TRT, but transferred to Keçiören Municipality under Altınok's administration.

Before Akdemir's appointment, the municipality's press and publicity team, which consisted of seven people, had grown to more than 170 people. The district municipality also founded a TV and radio station. The salaries of the expanding staff started to be paid through a municipal company.

In less than four years, 4.5 million liras of infrastructure expenditures were made for television and radio station.

The sources also stated that Altınok's administration had made large expenditures for printing and billboards in the district after Altınok becoming a candidate for the metropolitan municipality.