Republicans aren't charging that Plouffe violated any laws or ethics rules in accepting the speaking fee. But they do believe that the story could prove politically potent.
"President Obama came to Washington on the mantle that he was going to change how things were done," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement. "He made a bunch of promises to turn the economy around and focus on unemployment, but all he's been doing lately is raising money for his campaign. Now it's been revealed that one of his top aides took $100,000 from a company that did business with Iran after he announced he was going to work for the Obama administration. Four years later, Americans are beginning to realize that Barack Obama is just another typical politician — willing to say anything to get elected."
The White House has pushed back aggressively against the RNC attacks, with press secretary Jay Carney noting in a briefing Monday that senior members of the Bush administration gave paid speeches for companies that "were cited for violations regarding financing in Iran."
"David Plouffe was invited to speak in Africa by an affiliate company of the company you mentioned in the spring of 2010. He gave two speeches on mobile technology and digital communications, and had no separate meetings with the company's leadership. Even the most zealous watchdog group on this issue did not start their campaign on the host company's holding company until years later," Carney said. "Criticism of Mr. Plouffe now for issues and controversies that developed much later are simply misplaced."