Wiped from terrorist list, Iranian group hires former senator as lobbyist

An Iranian opposition group that was once considered a terrorist front by the State Department has hired an ex-senator to lobby for them.

Former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) has registered to represent the National Council of Resistance of Iran at his lobby firm Rosemont Associates, according to lobbying disclosure records.

The council’s members include the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), which was removed last year from the State Department’s terrorist organization list after an aggressive lobbying campaign by its supporters.

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Torricelli has been lobbying for the council since April 2, according to his registration. The ex-senator has been providing consulting services and strategy advice while meeting with “other supporters of the Iranian resistance in the United States” and “U.S. government and congressional officials.”

The lobbying registration also says Torricelli “provides public speaking services abroad for the client, as requested.”

Speeches by high-profile Washington figures like Torricelli played heavily in the campaign to delist the MEK. The push included legal action, television ads and lobbying by Iranian-American groups.

Speaking fees paid by MEK supporters to former government officials — including ex-Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) and Gen. Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — reportedly attracted the attention of federal investigators. Taking payments from a terrorist group is against the law.

The MEK was blamed by the State Department for several attacks in the 1970s that killed Americans in Iran. But the group’s supporters say it has since renounced violence and worked to promote democracy. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton removed the MEK from the terrorist list last year.

On Thursday, the council re-opened its Washington office after the U.S. government closed it down a decade ago. Several prominent Washington names attended the opening ceremony, including Torricelli.