Pro-Iranian group may have violated lobbying guidelines

Eli Lake, of the late, lamented New York Sun, is a superb journalist. And in an article in today's Washington Times, Lake fleshes out the details regarding the National Iranian American Council's curious lobbying activities.

Now a lawsuit has brought to light numerous documents that raise questions about whether the organization is using that influence to lobby for policies favorable to Iran in violation of federal law. If so, a number of prominent Washington figures could come to regret their ties to the group.Among NIAC's advisory board members are former Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, and John Limbert, a former U.S. hostage in Iran, was a board member until his recent appointment as deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran.

Mr. Pickering, reached by The Times, acknowledged he is on the board but said he has never attended a meeting and is not familiar with the organization's operations. Based on his participation in two panels on Capitol Hill, he said, he did not think NIAC was a lobby.

Mr. Limbert declined to comment, citing his new position, but has appeared at NIAC conferences in the past and expressed admiration for the organization and for its charismatic leader, Trita Parsi.

Mr. Parsi, a green card holder, has become more critical of Iran's government since its disputed June 12 presidential elections, urging President Obama to condemn human rights abuses in Iran and to implement a "tactical pause" in efforts to arrange negotiations. But Mr. Parsi's history suggests a continuing commitment to changing U.S. policy on Iran, and he has clearly become more influential in Washington since the change of administrations.

There is scads of evidence, produced via a defamation suit, that are strongly supportive of the position that many take: the NIAC is an undeclared lobby for the mullahs. Furthermore, their activities may be illegal. Well worth reading regarding how our policies are being influenced by this shady group.

Trita Parsi is a controversial figure (whose dissertation adviser for an anti-Israel thesis, which turned into an anti-Israel book, was Zbigniew Brzezinski). Parsi is all but the de facto Ambassador for Iran in Washington.

The policies that the NAIC promote are very similar to what the Iranian regime would want: no sanctions, no support for reform groups, no military action. The group has several people involved or related to the group who have some sway at the State Department. There has been a lot of controversy swirling about the NIAC the last few weeks.


Last week, I wrote about the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and called it a de facto lobby for Iran, intent on influencing legislation and placing its supporters in key positions of power in Washington. I pointed out that the new Iran Man in the State Department, John Limbert, serves on the NIAC's Advisory Council.

 

What is a lobby and what is not a lobby? That is the question. I believe think-tanks are one way around lobbying rules and policies. Do think tanks have to register as lobbies? Or do they operate free of lobbying restrictions.

That is one reason think tanks are being flooded with money and why a lot of movement is occurring in that sector.

Further superb commentary and a summary of Lake's article is courtesy of the well-regarded Michael Goldfarb at the Campaign Standard.

 


Eli Lake, of the late, lamented New York Sun, is a superb journalist. And in an article in today's Washington Times, Lake fleshes out the details regarding the National Iranian American Council's curious lobbying activities.

Now a lawsuit has brought to light numerous documents that raise questions about whether the organization is using that influence to lobby for policies favorable to Iran in violation of federal law. If so, a number of prominent Washington figures could come to regret their ties to the group.

Among NIAC's advisory board members are former Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, and John Limbert, a former U.S. hostage in Iran, was a board member until his recent appointment as deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran.

Mr. Pickering, reached by The Times, acknowledged he is on the board but said he has never attended a meeting and is not familiar with the organization's operations. Based on his participation in two panels on Capitol Hill, he said, he did not think NIAC was a lobby.

Mr. Limbert declined to comment, citing his new position, but has appeared at NIAC conferences in the past and expressed admiration for the organization and for its charismatic leader, Trita Parsi.

Mr. Parsi, a green card holder, has become more critical of Iran's government since its disputed June 12 presidential elections, urging President Obama to condemn human rights abuses in Iran and to implement a "tactical pause" in efforts to arrange negotiations. But Mr. Parsi's history suggests a continuing commitment to changing U.S. policy on Iran, and he has clearly become more influential in Washington since the change of administrations.

There is scads of evidence, produced via a defamation suit, that are strongly supportive of the position that many take: the NIAC is an undeclared lobby for the mullahs. Furthermore, their activities may be illegal. Well worth reading regarding how our policies are being influenced by this shady group.

Trita Parsi is a controversial figure (whose dissertation adviser for an anti-Israel thesis, which turned into an anti-Israel book, was Zbigniew Brzezinski). Parsi is all but the de facto Ambassador for Iran in Washington.

The policies that the NAIC promote are very similar to what the Iranian regime would want: no sanctions, no support for reform groups, no military action. The group has several people involved or related to the group who have some sway at the State Department. There has been a lot of controversy swirling about the NIAC the last few weeks.


Last week, I wrote about the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and called it a de facto lobby for Iran, intent on influencing legislation and placing its supporters in key positions of power in Washington. I pointed out that the new Iran Man in the State Department, John Limbert, serves on the NIAC's Advisory Council.

 

What is a lobby and what is not a lobby? That is the question. I believe think-tanks are one way around lobbying rules and policies. Do think tanks have to register as lobbies? Or do they operate free of lobbying restrictions.

That is one reason think tanks are being flooded with money and why a lot of movement is occurring in that sector.

Further superb commentary and a summary of Lake's article is courtesy of the well-regarded Michael Goldfarb at the Campaign Standard.