New York, December 15, 2003 - "As New Yorkers, 9/11 affected my constituents and me tremendously--Manhattan and Queens lost many residents to the terrorist attacks. In the aftermath, we all realize it is vitally important to protect Americans better and to make sure that those who would do us harm cannot enter our country. However, we shouldn't preempt civil liberties or close our doors altogether in place of building efficient and effective visa policies. After all, we are a country of immigrants."
These were the words of United States Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D/14th-NY), guest speaker at the New York City kick-off reception for the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) on December 5, 2003. Despite the terrible weather conditions created by the storm, Congresswoman Maloney joined IAPAC’s Trustees as well as guests from the New York metropolitan area to mark the official launch of IAPAC in the Tri-State area. The event was organized with the intent of acquainting the Iranian American community in New York with the mission and goals of IAPAC.
Congresswoman Maloney, impressed by the turnout during a storm, praised the Iranian American community for its contributions to American society and went on to further discuss issues of concern to Iranian Americans such as immigration and civil liberties. Congresswoman Maloney stressed the effectiveness and importance of Political Action Committees (PACs) in the American political system. “PACs are a way to increase your voice on issues and concerns. It is what makes our country work,” she said.
A former lobbyist and member of the New York City board of Education, Maloney commended IAPAC, stating that “Not everyone from the Iranian American community can go to Congress everyday—you come together, raise money, identified your friends, and hire a professional to organize for you.”
Mr. Hassan Nemazee, member of IAPAC’s Board of Trustees, agreed with Congresswoman Maloney. He said “whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, Nationalist or Monarchist, Iranian American domestic concerns are identical.” Mr. Nemazee announced IAPAC’s goal to eventually raise a million dollars per election cycle, placing it in the top 1.5% of PACs in the country. “This will put Iranian Americans in a position to have influence on policy and issues.”
Following Congresswoman Maloney, IAPAC Trustee Mr. Amir Farman-Farma spoke of his own personal reasons for joining IAPAC, and his feelings about the importance of political organization in his adopted country. Mr. Farman-Farma expressed two reasons for joining IAPAC: to overcome selfishness and lack of trust.
“Iranians think every organization has a secret agenda. Well, if this one has one, then I for one am certainly not aware of it,” said Mr. Farman-Farma. He expressed that the majority of Iranians are “politically inert,” which allows their Senators and Congressmen to blatantly disregard their interests.
“Many of us came to this country twenty-five years ago. That’s a generation. Some of you have been here longer,” he said. “This country has been good to us. It has provided us with homes, jobs, freedom, and security. Let us not make the mistake of focusing narrowly and exclusively on our own material interests. This did not have good consequences in Iran, nor is it a good idea here. As stakeholders in this society, it is time to organize ourselves politically and as a community and be prepared to defend our interests here.”
Following Mr. Farman-Farma, IAPAC Trustee, Mr. Babak Yaghmaie, spoke about his reasons for joining as a Trustee and provided the audience with an overview of IAPAC’s mission and organizational structure. Mr. Yaghmaie expressed his pride in the Iranian culture, its history and heritage. He noted, however, that as an Iranian American, he felt that “it is imperative for our community to galvanize around our common interests and to proactively engage in the American political process in order to ensure that our voice is heard.” Mr. Yaghmaie added, “That is why I have joined IAPAC - to help establish an organization that brings Iranian Americans together around our collective concerns, creates a voice for those concerns and works for the advancement of the interests of our community by engaging the American political system. Our mission is very clear. We want to establish an effective conduit between Iranian Americans and their elected representatives. The organization’s platform and policy objectives will ultimately be established by its constituents and supporters, which are represented by the Board of Trustees.
IAPAC’s Political Director, Mr. Morad Ghorban, discussed the substantial, yet commonly unknown, differences between PACs and the many ideologically based non-profit organizations operating in Washington, D.C., as well as the significance of PACs in the American electoral and Legislative process.
“While other non-profit organizations are permitted to advance certain legislative goals or educate the public about policy issues, they are prohibited by law from making any political contributions or expenditures to candidates running for federal office. PACs are organized for the specific purpose of contributing to candidates. The reality of the American political system is that it is dependent on financial contributions. PACs allow communities to pool their resources to build an effective campaign chest, which will be used to enhance their influence over the electoral and legislative process,” said Mr. Ghorban.
Mr. Ghorban explained that as a PAC, “we can reward candidates with financial contributions who are responsive to our community's needs while challenging those with opposing viewpoints. In addition, IAPAC contributions are a means of access to discuss policy positions and educate the party Leaders in the U.S. Congress about the various domestic demands and needs of the Iranian American community."
IAPAC would like to thank members of the New York City 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.