Obama aide's fee stirs Iran questions

2012-08-06 21:37
David Plouffe and US President Barack Obama. (AFP)

David Plouffe and US President Barack Obama. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - One of US President Barack Obama's closest aides was paid $100 000 by a company doing business with Iran just before joining the White House staff, the Washington Post reported on Monday, raising awkward election-year questions for the Democrat trying to get tough with Tehran.

White House senior adviser David Plouffe received the speaking fee from Africa's biggest wireless phone operator, MTN Group, for two speeches he made in Nigeria in December 2010, the company and administration officials confirmed.

Plouffe listed it with many others on his official financial disclosures after he joined the White House in January 2011. An MTN subsidiary is a major shareholder in Irancell, a major government-connected telecommunications operator in Iran.

Opposition

While there has been no suggestion that Plouffe violated any law or regulation, the appearance has already exposed the White House to attack from Republican opponents.

Plouffe managed Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and has been an important behind-the-scenes player in the 2012 race, where White House efforts to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon have been under fire by Republican contender Mitt Romney.

It is typical for Washington insiders to collect lucrative speaking fees between and after their government assignments. But Republicans said MTN's work in Iran through Irancell made the Nigeria speeches bad choices.

"Today's story raises serious questions," said Kirsten Kukowski, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee. "David Plouffe may be the biggest loophole in the international community's sanctions against Iran."

Misplaced criticism

White House spokesperson Eric Schultz said Plouffe spoke to MTN about mobile technology and digital communications unrelated to Iran and did not meet separately with the company's leadership.

"At the time, not even the most zealous watchdog group on this issue had targeted the Iranian business interests of the host's holding company. Criticism of Mr Plouffe now for issues and controversies that developed only years later is simply misplaced," he said.

MTN has denied violating any sanctions related to Iran, where according to the company's website it has nearly 35 million subscribers.

MTN spokesperson Paul Norman said Plouffe was invited to speak "because of his expertise and his knowledge of the US political scene".

"It had no connection or relevance to Iran, and nor did Iran nor Turkcell form part of any discussions held," he said in an email to Reuters, referring to the Turkish cellphone company that has sued MTN over allegations the South African company used bribes to beat it out in Iran. MTN has asked for the case to be thrown out.

Obama has been tightening sanctions against Iran, along with the European Union and other partners, to choke off funds for its nuclear program that Tehran says is for peaceful purposes and Israel and others say is meant to develop weapons.

Read more on:    barack obama  |  us  |  iran  |  security  |  us elections 2012

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.