White House aide took money from Iran-friendly corp
Aide's acceptance of money not illegal, but likely unethical.
The White House is defending Obama's 2008 campaign manager who was paid $100,000 in speaking fees from a pro-Iranian telecommunications firm, just before he became a senior advisor to Obama. The White House insists that David Plouffe's acceptance of those payments was legal.
David Plouffe is an Obama aide and has accepted money from a pro-Iranian firm.
Iran is a known state sponsor of terrorism, and Americans are forbidden to do business with the country.
Plouffe apparently gave two speeches in Nigeria in 2010. MTN, the telecommunications firm denies violating any sanctions that were imposed on Iran. However, MTN is a member in a joint venture in Iran and has ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
The White House insists the criticism of Plouffe's activities is purely political, with spokesman, Eric Schultz saying, "Even the most zealous watchdog group on this issue did not start their campaign on the host's holding company until many months later. Criticism of Mr. Plouffe now for issues and controversies that developed only years later is simply misplaced."
So far, nobody is accusing Mr. Plouffe of doing anything criminal, but the ethical appearances are questionable since Iran has risen to become public enemy no. 1. As concerns over Iran's nuclear weapons program grow, criticism of those who have any ties to the regime, even if tenuous at best, is strong.
Recently, Mitt Romney, the Republican presumptive nominee, criticized Obama for being much too soft on Iran and failing to support Israel.
Also, critics of the White House have also pointed out that Plouffe also accepted funds from Azerbaijan, a former Soviet Republic that is known for having a strong, authoritarian government that opporesses its own people. For that speech, Plouffe accepted $50,000.
When it was discovered that he accepted money from the regime, he quickly donated the money to a pro-democracy non-profit group.
MTN isn't a particularly white organization either, according to other reports. Turkcell, a Turkish telecommunications firm, accused MTN of winning their lucrative Iranian contract by promising, among other things, weaponry and UN votes.
And a cable released by WikiLeaks recently revealed that MTN is a close partner of Irancell, which happens to be wholly owned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. MTN also reportedly took orders from the Iranian regime to cut off text messaging and Skype services during periods of political unrest in the country.
For any individual to know these details and continue to do business with MTN may not be a violation of the law, but it certainly represents a violation of ethical principles to which we must hold our leaders and their staffs accountable.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: David Poluffe, Obama, aide, speaking fees, Nigeria, Iran, Azerbaijan
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