Mike Isikoff has broken an important story on the Treasury Department investigating several former gov’t officials for lobbying on behalf of an Iranian group classified by the State Department as terrorist. The story involves hundreds of thousands of speaking fees paid to the former officials’ speaking bureaus, money that apparently came from the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, the MEK.
The former officials were lobbying the government to delist the MEK as a terrorist group. Isikoff quotes an unnamed Obama official: “You have to ask the question, whether this is a prima facie case of material support for terrorism.”
The MEK is significant because it is tied to Israel. NBC has previously reported that the group “is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service” and has been linked to the killings of Iranian scientists.
The former officials under investigation include several prominent supporters of Israel in U.S. politics: former Atty General Michael Mukasey, former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean, and former PA Gov’r Ed Rendell, who lately appeared at a fundraiser for the Israeli army.
From Isikoff’s report:
[Former FBI head Louis] Freeh and [former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hugh] Shelton are among 40 former senior U.S. government officials who have participated in a public lobbying campaign – including appearing at overseas conferences and speaking at public rallies – aimed at persuading the U.S. government to remove the MEK from the terror list.
…Edward Rendell, a former Pennsylvania governor and ex-Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, whose speaking firm also received a subpoena, has received $160,000 over the past year for appearing at about seven conferences and rallies, including some in Paris, Brussels and Geneva, according to his office. (Rendell is a contributor to MSNBC TV.)…
Rendell said that there have been weekly conference calls among a “core group” of former U.S. senior officials participating in the lobbying campaign, organized by Freeh, to talk about ways to prod the State Department to remove the MEK from the terror list and protect its followers at Camp Ashraf. He identified this group as including former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean and Mukasey — all of whom have publicly spoken out on behalf of the MEK and spoken at its rallies.