The Guardian reports: Supporters of a designated Iranian terrorist organisation have won a long struggle to see it unbanned in the US after pouring millions of dollars into an unprecedented campaign of political donations, hiring Washington lobby groups and payments to former top administration officials.
A Guardian investigation, drawing partly on data researched by the Centre for Responsive Politics, a group tracking the impact of money in US politics, has identified a steady flow of funds from key Iranian American organisations and their leaders into the campaign to have the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran removed from the list of terrorist organisations.
The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is expected to notify Congress that the MEK will be removed from the terrorism list in the coming days.
The campaign to bury the MEK’s bloody history of bombings and assassinations that killed American businessmen, Iranian politicians and thousands of civilians, and to portray it as a loyal US ally against the Islamic government in Tehran has seen large sums of money directed at three principal targets: members of Congress, Washington lobby groups and influential former officials.
Prominent among the members of Congress who have received fund is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chair of the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee. She has accepted at least $20,000 in donations from Iranian American groups or their leaders to her political campaign fund.
Other recipients include Congressman Bob Filner, who was twice flown to address pro-MEK events in France and has pushed resolutions resolutions in the House of Representatives calling for the group to be unbanned. More than $14,000 in expenses for Filner’s Paris trips were met by the head of an Iranian American group who also paid close to $1m to a Washington lobby firm working to get the MEK unbanned.
A Texas Congressman, Ted Poe, received thousands of dollars in donations from the head of a pro-MEK group in his state at a time when he was a regular speaker on behalf of its unbanning at events across the US, describing the organisation as the ticket to regime change in Iran.
Mike Rogers, chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, has also received the backing of individuals and groups that support the unbanning of the MEK. Rogers has been among the strongest supporters in Congress of delisting the group, sponsoring resolutions and pressing other members of Congress to support the cause.
A leading advocate of unbanning the MEK and chairman of the foreign affairs committee’s oversight subcommittee, congressman Dana Rohrabacher, has received thousands of dollars in donations from supporters of the banned group this year alone. [Continue reading…]