The Washington Times reported Friday that the counterterrorism arm of the Treasury Department is probing speaking fees paid to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) by supporters of the Iranian opposition group Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), which the U.S. government considers a terrorist organization.
But Rendell is far from the only former government official who has publicly acknowledged accepting speaking fees from supporters of the MEK, which has been lobbying to get the group off the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The Huffington Post put together a list of 33 speakers at various MEK related meetings and conferences, though not all of them had accepted payments.
MEK supporters include a former director of the FBI, the former U.S. Attorney General, former military leaders and former high-ranking elected officials of both political parties, many of whom were paid thousands of dollars for short public speeches. The list of officials advocating for MEK to be taken off the list — which the group often helpfully provides in media packets at MEK rallies — includes Michael Mukasey, Patrick Kennedy, Rudy Giuliani, Andy Card, Howard Dean, Lee Hamilton, Bill Richardson, Tom Ridge, Wesley Clark, Fran Townsend and John Bolton.
As Glenn Greenwald points out, it may not even matter if every speaker at an event was paid since a 2010 Supreme Court decision upheld a law which banned advocacy that was “performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization.”
A State Department spokesman wouldn’t confirm that a subpoena had been issued to the office of an attorney for William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, which handles Rendell’s speaking engagements. “But the MEK is a designated terrorist group; therefore, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with or providing services to this group,” the spokesman told the Washington Times.
NBC News reported that MEK was involved in the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.
TPM sat down with a former spokesman for the MEK last year, who defended the group from charges that it has encouraged a cult of personality around MEK leader Maryam Rajavi and her husband, has supported violence in the past.
Ryan J. Reilly