Defending President Obama's senior adviser, the White House today said Republican criticism of David Plouffe for speaking to an affiliate of a company with ties to Iran is misplaced and purely political.
As first reported by the Washington Post, Plouffe received a $100,000 speaking fee in 2010, before he joined the White House, for delivering remarks on digital communications to a subsidiary of a company that has since been linked with Iran.
"Criticism of Mr. Plouffe now for issues and controversies that developed much later is simply misplaced," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters today. "This was prior to David Plouffe coming to work in the White House. It was before the watchdog group had even made an issue of this particular holding company."
"This is political criticism after the fact that's clearly designed to try to score some points when this was several years ago, prior to this dynamic we have now with regards to sanctions and companies like this," he said.
Republicans pounced on the story today, saying it "raises serious questions" about the president's adviser giving a speech to a company "profiting from the oppressive policies of the Iranian regime."
"David Plouffe may be the biggest loophole in the international community's sanctions against Iran," an RNC spokesperson said in a statement.
Pushing back, Carney noted that Republican politicians have received similar fees for speaking to groups with connections to the Iranian government. "I certainly don't recall similar criticism from the RNC when senior members of the George W. Bush administration, prior to taking office, had given paid speeches to companies that, in the case of Credit Suisse and UBS, were cited for violations regarding financing in Iran. And I think that this is clearly politics," he said.