Top Obama Democrat took $100k speaking fee from firm with Iran ties

The Washington Post reported Monday that David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser who was President Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, “accepted a $100,000 speaking fee in 2010 from an affiliate of a company doing business with Iran’s government.”

“A subsidiary of MTN Group, a South Africa-based telecommunications company, paid Plouffe for two speeches he made in Nigeria in December 2010, about a month before he joined the White House staff,” the report said.

“Since Plouffe’s speeches, MTN Group has come under intensified scrutiny from U.S. authorities because of its activities in Iran and Syria, which are under international sanctions intended to limit the countries’ access to sensitive technology. At the time of Plouffe’s speeches, MTN had been in a widely reported partnership for five years with a state-owned Iranian telecommunications firm.”

“There were no legal or ethical restrictions on Plouffe being paid to speak to the MTN subsidiary as a private citizen. But for a close Obama aide to have accepted payment from a company involved in Iran could prove troublesome for the president as the White House toughens its stance toward the Islamic republic. In recent weeks, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has accused the administration of being soft on Iran.”

The White House refused to allow Plouffe to speak to the Washington Post about the speaking fee. Click here to read the rest of the article.

The Obama campaign responded to the paper’s story by blaming Mitt Romney, stating that he did not get rid of any investments in companies that might do business with Iran.

“Mitt Romney had a financial interest in Turkcell which is attempting to advance its business interest in Iran,” said Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBotl.

“We’re happy to have a debate over what clients Mitt Romney’s advisors have chosen to advise – from human rights abusers to Chinese oil companies – but what is more significant is Romney’s own failure to keep his word when it came to Iran divestment,” LaBotl said.

But according to BuzzFeed, “the challenge for the Obama campaign is that Plouffe also had ties to Turkcell, listing a $48,000 speaking fee from the Turkish company in 2010.”