A new movement, “Defund Iran,” seeks to amend state constitutions to prevent taxpayer dollars from being spent on Iran or other state sponsors of terror.
The effort, which launched Tuesday, is a direct response to the Iran deal, pushing back against the provision in the Iran deal that requires the U.S. government to “take appropriate steps, taking into account all available authorities,” to reverse state and local sanctions against the Iranian regime.
Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to admit in July that states have the constitutional authority to maintain Iran sanctions. Currently, there are 30 states that have divested their pension funds from investing in companies that do business with the Iranian regime, while nearly a dozen have laws that bar such companies from receiving state contracts.
However, he suggested that the Obama administration “will take steps” to reverse state policies on Iran.
The danger, according to Former Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who is the National Chairwoman for Defund Iran, is that the Department of Justice could sue states to change their laws and policies. In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday morning, Arizona State House Majority Leader Steve Montenegro agreed, noting that his state had a long history of battles against the Department of Justice, and that other states could soon see the same.
Former Colorado State House Minority Leader Mark Waller pointed out that many states have only divested from Iran due to policy decisions by the governing bodies of their pension funds, and that such decisions could easily be reversed, given pressure from the Obama administration. The goal of Defund Iran, he said, is to codify such policies in law, and use citizen initiatives, where necessary, to change state constitutions to stop any future funding for Iran.
In addition to Steelman, Montenegro, and Waller, the Defund Iran initiative includes Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel–who, like Waller, is a veteran of the Iraq War. In Florida, the effort is being led by Former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, bringing the number of state campaigns to five thus far.
Defund Iran hopes to spread their efforts to all fifty states, and is confident that Democrats as well as Republicans will support the movement.
A press release from Defund Iran cited polling data from McLaughlin & Associates: “There is strong bi-partisan support for this ballot measure as 4 out of 5 Republicans (81%); 3 out of 5 Democrats (60%) and 7 out of 10 Independents (70%) all said they would support such a ballot measure.”
The idea of using states to resist the Iran deal, given congressional weakness, originated at Breitbart News shortly after the Iran deal was announced.