By: Melissa Azadeh
Washington D.C., November 24, 2003 - The Iranian American Political Action Committee held a reception with special guest Mrs. Goli Ameri, a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress (OR-01). The event, which was held at the National Trust for Historic Preservation on November 6th, was arranged for the purpose of familiarizing the Iranian American community in Washington D.C. with Mrs. Ameri’s bid to win Oregon’s first district, as well as with IAPAC’s mission and goals. If successful, Mrs. Ameri is poised to make history by becoming the first American of Iranian Heritage to be elected to Congress.
Members of IAPAC’s Board of Trustees, Ms. Fereshteh Bekhrad, Dr. Michael Etessami, Mr. Hormoz Hekmat, and Mr. Babak Hoghooghi were in attendance, as well as IAPAC Political Director Mr. Morad Ghorban, who introduced the event. Mr. Ghorban welcomed Mrs. Ameri and presented IAPAC’s Mission and political platform. He also discussed the substantial, yet commonly unknown, differences between PACs and the many ideologically based non-profit organizations, 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. Babak Hoghooghi, member of IAPAC’s Board of Trustees, introduced Mrs. Ameri, emphasizing the need for Iranian Americans from all sides of the political spectrum to support her. “We need not agree with each other on every issue,” he said, “Instead, we should recognize our differences but emphasize our common interests and goals.” Mr. Hoghooghi urged the community to be involved and participate through organizations such as IAPAC, in order to ensure adequate representation of Iranian Americans and their common interest in American public life as well as the political arena.
Mr. Hoghooghi used Civil Liberties, Immigration issues, and “image and influence building” as examples of these common goals he believes will unify the Iranian American community. In addition, Iranian Democrats and Republicans should back Ameri because she is a worthy representative of the Iranian American community. “I trust that as long as Goli Ameri wears her Iranian heritage openly and with pride, which she does, and as long as she stands by the Iranian American community which she is a distinguished member of, we will all benefit from her election to the US Congress,” he said.
In addition to voicing his confidence in Mrs. Ameri’s leadership, Mr. Hoghooghi stressed the importance of improving the image of Iranian Americans in mainstream American society. He is convinced that as a result of Mrs. Ameri’s success “Our image will undoubtedly be enhanced, we will have greater influence in the corridors of power and she will fully appreciate and demonstrate to her colleagues that Iranian Americans are productive and proud members of American society who deserve better than being unfairly singled out under measures such as the NSEERS program and the STEP Act.”
Mrs. Ameri conveyed her pride in having the opportunity to represent the Iranian American community, who’s “level of achievement as recent immigrants,” she said, “is not only a demonstration of our rich heritage, but also of this unbelievable country which treats immigrants with dignity, gives them all the rights and privileges of citizenship, and allows someone like me to represent the good people of the 1st district of Oregon.”
After being named as one of the National Republican Campaign Committee’s super six candidates, Mrs. Ameri is considered the top Republican challenger in the country. Her success is largely due to the support she has of opinion and business leaders in Oregon. Mrs. Ameri announced her plans to double the $375,000 she has raised thus far by the end of the year. She has dented her opponent’s ability to raise money, and needs to keep up the momentum.
Tim Phillips, Ameri’s opponent in the Republican Primary, continues to make an issue of her Iranian heritage, commenting that her money is "nationalistic money" coming from the Iranian community outside Oregon. His attitude is not going over well with the Republican Party, or with Oregonians. Mrs. Ameri sees his reaction as a sign of desperation. “He is unable to raise money, so he brings up the heritage issue.”
After her presentation, Mrs. Ameri took questions from guests ranging from her position on abortion, the Healthy Forest Initiative, to foreign policy issues in the Middle East. She classifies herself as fiscally conservative, socially moderate, mainstream Republican.
Employment is the number one issue in Oregon, which currently suffers from the highest unemployment rate in the country, and Mrs. Ameri is determined to change this. She has taken a leading role against tax increases in Oregon. “Lower taxes and smaller government, that’s the Republican philosophy,” she said. “When government grows too big it becomes harder to control waste.” Mrs. Ameri has no intention of eliminating taxes, she does however believe in reform, and a reasonable and rational amount of taxation that will help middle class Oregonians.
Mrs. Ameri discussed Compassionate Conservatism, stating that the Republican Party has a moderate side as well as its Conservative side, and “the challenge is bringing the two together. You have to respect and listen to what both conservatives and moderates are focused on.” Along with her honest, straight forward attitude and fund raising skills, it is her capability to appeal to conservatives, moderates, and independents alike which may be the key to Mrs. Ameri’s success.
Mrs. Ameri spent her day in Washington D.C. meeting with several PACs which plan to support her campaign. The telecommunications PACs are excited because of her background, as are the business groups. She has met with the United States Telecom Association; phone companies such as SBC, Verizon, and Bell South; the Food Marketing Institute; Southern California Edison; and Americans for Tax Reform.
With the Primary rapidly approaching (May 18th), many in attendance wondered how Iranian Americans can help. Mrs. Ameri encouraged Meet & Greets such as the one held by IAPAC, as well as contributions. Much of her support so far has come from networking, which is also a great help. “I will never please everyone, eternity is not enough time,” said Ameri. “Our community is split right down the middle on important issues such as the war and sanctions. We need to get beyond that. If I’m honest enough, if I have enough integrity, and if you think I’m a winner then you need to support me.”
To learn more about Mrs. Ameri’s upcoming events please call 503 624-2004.
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.