Thursday, September 4, 2008

Biden: 'I Don't Meet With Lobbyists', Unless They Happen to be Iranian Lobbyists

"Look, I’m of all the senators of the United States Senate, I’m the one who has, I believe this to be true, I just speak for myself, is that I don’t meet with lobbyists. I don’t meet with lobbyists."
Senator Joe Biden, on CNN's "American Morning"

But what about Iranian lobbyists? Has Senator Biden ever met with them?

Excerpted from Insight Magazine:
Some might call it reaching out to American Muslims. But to many Iranians living in California, a fund-raiser for Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) at the home of a prominent pro-Iran lobbyist on Feb. 19 sent a wrongheaded message to the ruling clerics in Tehran

"When we learned that Sen. Biden was planning to hold a fund-raiser at the California home of Dr. Sadegh Namazi-khah - founder and president of the Iranian Muslim Association of North America [IMAN] - we immediately contacted his office to express our dismay," a prominent Iranian-American activist tells INSIGHT. Why dismay? "Dr Namazi-khah is well-known in the Los Angeles area for his support of the ruling clerical regime in Tehran and is one of the regime's leading unofficial lobbyists in America....

Namazi-khah and other IMAN board members say Biden's office contacted them to inquire if they would hold a private fund-raiser for the senator, who is up for re-election this year, after meeting with them at a pro-Tehran gala in New York last December. That event was sponsored by the American-Iranian Council (AIC), a pro-regime lobbying group trying to get Congress and the Bush administration to lift the trade embargo on Iran. The AIC is funded by hefty contributions from Conoco and other U.S. oil companies seeking to get a piece of the potentially lucrative Iranian petrochemicals sector

Namazi-khah insists that IMAN is a "cultural and religious group, not a political group."... One IMAN board member says the group raises $300,000 to $400,000 per year from members. He insists that they take "no money from the government in Tehran."

One clue can be found in an official calendar circulated by the Iranian government for the Persian year 1379 (March 2000-March 2001), obtained by INSIGHT. The mission statement of the "General Office of Cultural Affairs of Iranians Outside the Country" which circulated the calendar, is to "promote policies of the government of the Islamic Republic [and] strive to be a bridge between the Iranian community abroad and inside the country." In addition to listing Iranian government Websites, the calendar cites IMAN as a pro-regime group.

"If they are lobbying on behalf of the Tehran government they are probably in violation of U.S. law," an FBI source who has prosecuted several related cases tells INSIGHT. But with high-level friends in Washington, IMAN may believe it has purchased immunity.
High-level friends, indeed!

"Look, I’m of all the senators of the United States Senate, I’m the one who has, I believe this to be true, I just speak for myself, is that I don’t meet with lobbyists. I don’t meet with lobbyists!"

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