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Under federal law, advocates for foreign organizations are required to register as lobbyists and provide details about their clients and income. But the MEK supporters have not registered, which would require disclosing the amounts they are paid and the identities of officials with whom they meet.

 

Washington Post

 

A well-financed lobbying campaign by prominent U.S. politicians and former officials on behalf of a designated terrorist organization is focusing new attention on the group and its influential advocates.

 

 

Supporters of the Iranian ­opposition group Mujaheddin-e Khalq, or MEK, have met with senior Obama administration ­officials to push for the organization's removal from the State Department's terrorist list and better treatment of its members at a camp in Iraq.

 

Public appearances on behalf of the MEK by such people as former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Pennsylvania governor Edward G. Rendell and former Obama national security adviser James L. Jones had already sparked an investigation by the Treasury Department into whether payments of tens of thousands of dollars to some of them violated anti-terrorism laws.

 

In recent weeks, new questions have been raised about whether private meetings, conference calls and other contact with officials at the State Department and elsewhere in the administration over the past year require the advocates' registration as lobbyists or agents of a foreign entity.

 

Under federal law, advocates for foreign organizations are required to register as lobbyists and provide details about their clients and income. But the MEK supporters have not registered, which would require disclosing the amounts they are paid and the identities of officials with whom they meet.

 

The supporters argue that they are acting legitimately to facilitate U.S. policy decisions, which could make them exempt from registration requirements.

 

But scholars of lobbying regulations say the contacts with administration officials easily meet the definition of lobbying under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, a law that has sometimes led to criminal charges.

 

"The law applies to anyone engaged in political or lobbying activity - or even propaganda - on behalf of a foreign ‘principal,' a term that is defined broadly," said David Cole, a professor and expert on criminal and constitutional law at Georgetown University Law School. "It's a very low bar."

 

The new questions are the latest challenge for the MEK, which has been listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization since 1997 and was linked to the deaths of six Americans in the 1970s.

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