Crew: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Last November, eight members of the House and Senate met privately with a representative of a group that advocates for the “overthrow of the Islamic Republic in Iran.” Six of these members of Congress had received maximum contributions from the regime-change activist during the previous election; two of them, Senators Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn, sit on the powerful Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, respectively.
The access granted to this donor, who has given a total of nearly $280,000 to Republican Party campaigns and committees since 2018, despite never having given contributions in the past, shows the degree to which members of Congress can allow deep-pocketed donors to weigh in on even the most delicate issues, such as Iran policy. It also sheds light on who has the ear of American officials regarding Iran as relations between the two countries reach their tensest point in years.
The donor who met with the eight members of Congress, retired Goldman Sachs partner Ali Saadat-Meli, is a founding member of a group called Iran Revival, which was founded in September 2018 by anti-regime activists among the international Iranian diaspora. (Iran Revival is also known by its Persian-language name, “Farashgard.”) The group advocates for regime change in Iran and is aligned with exiled Iranian crown prince Reza Pahlavi, who seeks a role in Iran’s next government. Meli has been deeply involved in Iran Revival’s leadership and outreach efforts, sometimes appearing in Persian-language media as a representative of the organization.
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