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Turner divorce case takes ugly turn

Dayton congressman delivers letter directing House colleague to testify in case.

Rep. Darrell Issa was in the U.S. Capitol last week when Rep. Mike Turner approached him and did something rarely done in Congress: He handed him a letter requesting that Issa testify in his divorce proceedings.

It was the latest chapter in what has become an increasingly rancorous divorce between Turner, a Dayton Republican who has served his southwest Ohio district since 2003, and Majida Mourad, an energy lobbyist who married Turner in 2015 and whom Turner sued for divorce a little more than a year later, citing “fraudulent contract.”

According to filings with the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts, attorneys for Turner, 58, and Mourad, 48, are scheduled for a pretrial call Wednesday afternoon. Their case is currently set to be heard July 20, according to filings with the court.

The decision to compel Issa, a California Republican who once served as Turner’s chairman on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to testify has drawn renewed attention to the divorce case, which has been wending its way through the court system since May 2017.

“I don’t know what he’s doing,” said Sanford K. Ain, a D.C.–based attorney for Mourad, of Turner’s decision to pull Issa into the case. “I don’t know what his motivation is.”

Ain said he is not aware of Turner asking any other member of Congress to testify.

Reached Tuesday, Turner declined to comment on any aspect of the divorce case.

In a statement, Ain said Mourad was “saddened” that her marriage did not work out and “she hopes to resolve it quickly in a dignified fashion.”

“Ms. Mourad will not comment on any details of the litigation and would prefer it be kept private,” Ain said.

Attorney: ‘Ms. Mourad was never unfaithful’

Ain acknowledged rumors on Capitol Hill suggesting that Mourad and Issa are linked romantically. He said the rumors are not true.

He said Turner “has never made any claims of adultery to Ms. Mourad and it has not been alleged in any court filings.

“He may have made these comments to third parties thinking it would advantage him in the divorce, but it has no basis in fact,” the attorney said.

“Because it has been raised, Ms. Mourad was never unfaithful to Congressman Turner during the marriage, before or after Congressman Turner filed for divorce,” Ain said. “Any allegation of her being unfaithful to Congressman Turner is simply false and defamatory.”

In a statement to Washington, D.C., publication Politico, Issa also denied that he and Mourad had a romantic relationship.

“There is no truth whatsoever to these allegations,” he told Politico.

Multiple Capitol Hill sources said that Issa and Mourad have long been friends in part because of their shared Lebanese-American heritage. Both, for example, were honored at a 2009 gala benefiting a foundation that works to provide support for health care in Lebanon.

Issa announced in January that he does not plan to run for re-election after this term.

‘50 Most Beautiful’

Mourad, a Toledo native, was named one of “the 50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill” in 2015 by the Washington newspaper “The Hill.” She is a longtime energy lobbyist and has worked for the liquid natural gas company Tellurian since May 2017.

According to court filings, Mourad unsuccessfully sought to keep the proceedings confidential, then later unsuccessfully sought to shield her stock agreement with that company.

According to her LinkedIn profile, she has also served as vice-president of government affairs for Cheniere, a Houston-based energy company that primarily works in liquid natural gas–related businesses. From 2000 to 2004, she served in the George W. Bush administration, working as a senior adviser to Spencer Abraham at the Department of Energy and later went on to work for Abraham as vice president and partner of the Abraham Group, a lobbying firm. She began her career on Capitol Hill working for Rep. Sonny Bono and later for Rep. Mary Bono, before becoming an aide to then-Sen. Abraham in 1999.

Her successful career was reflected in Turner’s personal financial disclosures to Congress: While Turner claimed assets of between $153,026 and $695,000 when he came to Congress in 2002, in 2016, he claimed between $2.8 million and $10.3 million — mostly assets that Mourad brought into the marriage.

Ohio divorce law generally divides assets acquired during the marriage “equitably” between partners, according to the Ohio State Board Association, though some exceptions exist. Ohio law defines the marriage as beginning at the wedding and ending when the court terminates the marriage.

Turner filed for divorce in May and asked that Mourad be restrained from taking any of their assets, according to a divorce filing made in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. He later requested that order be dropped.

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