An ongoing investigation into payments made to high-profile figures speaking on behalf of an Iranian opposition group the U.S. considers a terrorist organization hasn’t scared them away from advocating on its behalf.
Republican and Democratic politicians alike showed their support for the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, at two events last week: one in a Congress and one in France. The MEK and its supporters are campaigning to have the group removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of officially designated terrorist organizations.
The events come at the same time the U.S. Treasury department is looking into speaking fees paid to supporters by MEK affiliates in the United States.
In Paris, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and former Rep. Patrick Kennedy appeared at a conference on Saturday sponsored by the French Committee for a Democratic Iran (CFID), a group formed in support of the MEK, according to a press release.
In D.C., Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Ted Poe (R-TX) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) gathered at a Persian new year event held by MEK supporters in a Congressional committee room which was also attended by Tom Ridge.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Rep. Poe said that the State Department needed to give him more information about why MEK was still a threat to the U.S. “That information either doesn’t either exist or they haven’t provided it for me,” he told the paper.
In Paris, Giuliani suggested he should go the former U.S. military base in Iraq where the U.N. and U.S. are working to move members of the group, to see if the conditions were okay for the group. “Let me see it with my own eyes,” Giuliani said, according to a press release.
“In other words, let’s see if my country that I love, the United States of America, is living up to the promise that it made to the people of Ashraf to protect them and to treat them decently or it’s breaking that promise,” he continued. “And if you don’t want to send me, you can send Judge Mukasey or Tom Ridge or Patrick Kennedy or four or five of us and then you can put us before Congress and put us under oath and I assure you, we’ll tell the truth about it and we’ll get this resolved. Are we being misled or is the State Department breaking its promise to the people of Ashraf? Let’s get an answer to it once and for all.”
A press release from the California Society for Democracy in Iran related to the U.S. event quotes Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, as calling the investigation into speaking payments “a travesty” and calling it a “sin” for the government to go “after these people trying to support the people of Iran.”
The continued demonstrations of support for getting the MEK off the terrorist list come even as individuals who have spoken at MEK events are coordinating to hire lawyers to defend them in the investigation.