White House-Linked Dark Money Group Threatens Democrats on Eve of Nuke Deal

CREDO Action pushes deal before details even released

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, right, welcomes the International Atomic Energy Agency's director-general, Yukiya Amano / AP
July 4, 2015

A prominent progressive organization linked to the White House and claiming to work for dozens of like-minded groups is threatening to attack any congressional Democrat who objects to a final nuclear deal with Iran, even before the terms of any such agreement have been finalized, according to an email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

CREDO Action, the political arm of CREDO Mobile, declared this week in an secret email to journalists that it will punish congressional Democrats who fail to line up behind any deal sealed between the West and Iran.

"Democrats in Congress are the only remaining obstacle to finalizing today’s historic deal," Zack Malitz, campaign manager for CREDO, said in a statement emailed to reporters on July 2, along with a note that details of the email were not to be published until a deal was actually announced. "Every Democrat should go on the record right now in support of the deal, and pledge to defend it from attacks in Congress."

"Republicans will try to sabotage the deal and take us to war, but they can’t do it without Democratic votes," Matlz wrote. "Progressives will hold accountable those Democrats who vote to help Republicans sabotage the deal and start a war."

A western source monitoring the Vienna talks told the Free Beacon that such tactics are in line with White House efforts to dampen criticism of its diplomacy with Iran.

"This is exactly what you’d expect from the deal-at-any-cost lobby," the source said. "The White House lied to Congress about what it would deliver and doesn’t have anything left than its raw political power."

The Free Beacon revealed in 2013 that CREDO Mobile cofounder Michael Kieschnick had funneled millions of dollars to pro-Obama interest groups through CREDO Mobile’s liberal activism network, CREDO Action.

The organization is a member of the secret Democratic dark money group known as the Democracy Alliance. The email to journalists noted that CREDO has raised money for many liberal groups, including Planned Parenthood.

CREDO’s email to journalists also boasted that the organization had "fought for years" to stymie congressional pressure in the lead-up to what is widely expected to be a deal that empowers Tehran’s nuclear program and does little to rein in the country’s most controversial nuclear research.

The email cited previous efforts to pressure top congressional Democrats, including attacking Senator Robert Menendez for "warmongering on Iran," urging Democrats to boycott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the full Congress last spring, and warning Senator Chuck Schumer that he must not "lead us to war with Iran."

CREDO’s efforts fall in line with similar attempts by Obama administration allies to pressure Democrats to sign off on any deal that might be reached with Iran.

Multiple outlets, including Politico and the Wall Street Journal, revealed last spring that the White House was surreptitiously organizing a campaign by dozens of progressive groups to pressure Congress on an Iran deal.

Despite the efforts, legislation passed by veto-proof majorities in the Senate and House, and signed into law by Obama despite repeated veto threats, provides Congress with at least 30 days to evaluate a deal with Iran after it is finalized.

Democrats and Republicans alike have expressed concerns in recent months that the deal with Iran would not adequately address concerns about its clandestine efforts to build a nuclear weapon.

In recent days, the administration has confirmed that it will permit Iran to continue enriching uranium. Economic sanctions also will be lifted before Tehran discloses the past nature of its nuclear weapons work.