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Democrats took donations, not bribes, from US lobbying group

January 6, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: An Iran lobbying group bribed Democrats to vote for the 2015 nuclear deal.  

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The politicians took donations from an Iranian American political action committee, a federally registered U.S. organization that cannot legally accept money foreign governments or companies.

THE FACTS: As Democrats criticized President Donald Trump for ordering the airstrike last week that killed Iran’s top general and escalated tensions in the Middle East, social media posts and online articles wrongly claimed that Democratic legislators illegally took money from an Iranian lobbying group.

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The online posts and articles claim several Democratic took bribes from an “Iran lobby” ahead of voting on a 2015 nuclear deal former President Barack Obama agreed to with the country and other world leaders.

The inaccurate articles cite campaign donations that a handful of Democrats received from the Iranian American Political Action Committee, a D.C.-based PAC that funds candidates based on their influence or support of issues, causes or legislation that’s important to the Iranian American community. It is the PAC for the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, a U.S. organization that lobbies for the Iranian American community.

In recent years, that PAC has donated to both Republicans and Democrats, including former House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, according to federal finance records.

The group supported the Iran nuclear deal, which Obama approved in July 2015. Senate Democrats blocked a disapproval resolution of the deal in September 2010, allowing the agreement to move forward. The Iranian American Political Action Committee did not make any donations between April 22, 2015 and September 21, 2015.

The PAC has given to politicians who both supported or opposed the deal, said Morad Ghorban, the director of government relations and policy at the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans.

“We’re not a one-issue organization,” Ghorban said. “If you look at our financial giving record, you’ll see that some of the candidates we supported felt the deal wasn’t good enough or didn’t go far enough. And each of those candidates made those determinations on their own.”

Similar stories describing the PAC as an “Iran lobby” circulated in 2015, when the disapproval resolution of Obama’s nuclear deal failed.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536