Flashback: Plouffe forced to donate money from Azeri government front

2009: Plouffe donated approximately $50,000 in speaking fees to pro-democracy group after controversy over speech

• August 6, 2012 11:49 am

White House senior adviser David Plouffe is taking heat for taking $100,000 in speaking fees from a firm with ties to Iran and Syria. But this is not the first time Plouffe has taken money from groups tied to corrupt foreign governments.

Plouffe was paid approximately $50,000 to speak to the Association for Civil Society Development in Azerbaijan (ACSDA), a front for the Azeri government. He was later forced to donate the money to pro-democracy groups:

Mr. Plouffe now intends to donate his speaking fee, which the associate said is in the range of $50,000, to groups that advocate democratization in the turbulent post-Soviet states of the region around the Caspian and Caucasus mountain range. Mr. Plouffe also plans to share the contents of the speech with opposition groups.

U.S. officials said Mr. Plouffe coordinated his talks with American officials in the region and that his message about the uses of the Internet for democratic organizing advances longstanding U.S. policy. But they added that the Azerbaijan government has long sought to legitimize itself by hosting prominent Americans, often with the help of Washington lobbyists.

The Washington Post reported Monday Plouffe had received $100,000 from a subsidiary of the MTN Group, a South African telecommunications firm with ties to Syrian and Iran.

Plouffe was also paid $48,000 in speaking fees by Turkcell, a Turkish company with ties to Iran.