San Francisco, CA - The Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) held its annual Northern California fundraising reception at the home of IAPAC Trustee, Mrs. Gita Kashani in Los Altos Hills on December 3rd, 2004. Special guests included, the Honorable Steve Westly - California State Controller, Mr. Ross Mirkarimi - San Francisco Board of Supervisor elect, Ms. Banfsheh Akhlaghi – with the National Legal Sanctuary for Community Advancement and Jennifer Tang - Field Representative for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.
The event was organized to celebrate the one-year anniversary of IAPAC and to acquaint the Iranian American community in Northern California with the mission, goals and activities of the organization. Members of IAPAC’s Board of Trustees, Mr. Faraj Aalaei, Mrs. Laleh Amir Teymour, Mr. Majid Ghafgheichi and Mr. Mehdi Maghsoodnia were also in attendance, as well as IAPAC Junior Trustee Ms. Mercedes Salem and Political Director Mr. Morad Ghorban.
Mrs. Gita Kashani began the evening’s program by introducing Mr. Ross Mirkarimi. “History was made when Mr. Ross Mirkarimi became the first ever American of Iranian Heritage to be elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, a position which I might add, launched the political careers of individuals like San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome and Senator Dianne Feinstein”, said Kashani.
Mr. Mirkarimi began his remarks by thanking the Iranian American community in the San Francisco Bay Area for supporting his campaign. The son of a Jewish Russian mother and an Iranian immigrant, Mirkarimi was schooled by Jesuits in Rhode Island and embedded, as he says, with “coalition-building DNA.” Mirkarimi explained his strategy of running an effective and relentless field campaign. Throughout the campaign, Mirkarimi visited key transit passages and introduced himself to countless residents. He consistently visited churches as well as knocking on doors in every neighborhood in the District. Using his extensive experience of running successful political campaigns, he sought after and received the endorsements from well-known community leaders.
Following Mirkarimi, California State Controller, Mr. Steve Westly, spoke about the importance and effectiveness of organizations such as IAPAC in the American electoral and legislative process. “PACs are a way to increase your community’s voice on the issues of concern,” said Westly. On a more personal note, Mr. Westly attributed his success to Iranian Americans such as Mr. Pierre Omidyar of eBay, who helped launch his business career. With a high level of educational attainment and entrepreneurial success, Iranian Americans play a prominent role in contributing to the social and economic fiber of California and are the future leaders in maintaining our state’s competitive edge. As State Controller of California, Mr. Westly serves as the Chief Financial Officer of the 5th largest economy in the world.
Perhaps, one of the most poignant speeches of the evening came from Ms. Banafsheh Akhlaghi of the National Legal Sanctuary for Community Advancement (NLSCA). The NLSCA is non-profit organization that provides pro-bono and sliding-scale counsel for individuals in need of legal services related to issues arising from civil rights, FBI interrogations, immigration, employment and educational discrimination. They are the first legal organization in the US purely dedicated to providing accessible legal advocacy to protect the civil rights of Middle Easterners, Muslims and South Asians.
Ms. Akhlaghi explained how IAPAC helped bring to the attention of Congress recent legislative and regulatory developments that have singled out Iranians for special scrutiny, and in a large number of cases, have unjustifiably resulted in the detention of Iranians without due process of the law. IAPAC was “instrumental” in obtaining Congressional sponsorship to conduct two bipartisan briefings on Capitol Hill on the Iranian American Bar Association’s recently published investigative report concerning the detention of Iranian nationals under the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System ("NSEERS"). The NLSCA was invited to serve on the panel at both briefings.
Following Ms. Akhlaghi’s lead, IAPAC Political Director, Mr. Morad Ghorban, explained that IAPAC contributions are a means of access to discuss policy positions and educate policy makers about the various domestic needs of the Iranian American community. “Our mission is very simple, to finically support the election of candidates for federal, state and local office, regardless of party affiliation, who are attuned to the domestic needs of the Iranian American community, said Mr. Ghorban. IAPAC focuses exclusively on domestic policy issues such as civil rights, immigration and civil liberties, and encourages Iranian Americans to actively participate in the electoral process. IAPAC Trustee, Mr. Faraj Alaei, concluded the evening by reminding the participants that the American political system is dependent on financial contributions. “The reality of the American system teaches, moreover, that a community’s voice will be heard only if it is organized, is financially strong, and has a coherent, persuasive message,” said Mr. Aalaei. As such, IAPAC’s twenty-two founding trustees concluded that a political action committee representing our common interests was indispensable.
IAPAC would like to thank members of the Northern California Host Committee, Board of Trustees and guests whose participation made the evening a success.
Paid for by the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC). This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Contributions are not tax-deductible as charitable deductions for federal tax purposes.
IAPAC is a registered bi-partisan federal political committee that contributes to candidates for federal office who are attuned to the domestic needs of the Iranian American community. IAPAC focuses exclusively on domestic policy issues such as civil rights and civil liberties, and encourages Iranian Americans to actively participate in the electoral process, to vote and run for political office.