www. kentimmerman.com Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Calif. Considers Iran Divestment Bill
Kenneth R. Timmerman
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
California Assembly will hear proposed legislation on Wednesday that
will require state pension funds to divest from companies that do
business with Iran.
Introduced two months ago by Assemblyman Joel Anderson, R-Cajun, and
Jose Solorio, D-Anaheim, Assembly Bill 221 will come before the
Committee on Public Safety tomorrow, where several prominent
Iranian-American activists have announced they will testify in support
of the measure.
The California bill is the first of its kind in the nation, but already
has served as a model for similar legislation introduced in state
legislatures in Massachussetts and Maryland. Legislators in Georgia and
Ohio have indicated they also plan to introduce divestment bills in the
coming weeks that target Iran.
Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman says she took unilateral steps
to bar state funds from investing in companies that did business with
terrorist states last year after she learned that BNP Paribas, the
largest French bank, was making large loans to Iran.
"We kicked them off our broker-dealer list and put in place policies
that said we won't do business with companies that do business in
Iran," she said.
Earlier this month, U.S. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R, Fla.,
and Tom Lantos, D-Calif., introduced federal legislation that would
require all U.S. government pension funds to divest stock of companies
that had invested more than $20 million in Iran's oil and gas sector.
California's gigantic state pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, have
invested around $24 billion in companies doing business in Iran,
according to figures released by Conflict Securities, a private
consulting group that has created the first "terror-free" stock fund.
Anderson said he was "shocked to learn that we are invested in
companies doing business in Iran. It's not a good policy to be invested
in a country that's trying to kill us."
After September 11, the U.S. government took action to seize bank
accounts and assets belonging to terrorist groups, Anderson noted.
"Why? Because money is the mother's milk of terrorism. Terrorists
require money to pay for safe harbors, training, logistical support,
false documentation, and of course weapons," he said.
Support for Anderson's legislation has been flooding in from the
Iranian-American community, from women's rights activists to
Not surprisingly, groups close to the Tehran regime have opposed the
legislation. ""Instead of ratcheting-up pressure, we need state and
local leaders to call on Washington to step up dialogue between the two
countries," said Shervin Boloorian, legislative director of the
National Iranian American Council (NIAC).
Pro-business lobbyist William Reinsch, who as undersecretary of
Commerce during the Clinton administration loosened export controls on
the sale of strategic goods to Communist China, also opposes the
"We're going to destroy our relations with the very countries we
need in a united front against Iran,'" Reinsch told Bloomberg News
recently. Roozbeh Farahanipour was a leader of the July 1999 student
uprising in Tehran, and will travel from Los Angeles to Sacramento
tomorrow to present testimony in favor of the legislation.
In the crackdown that followed the student protests, Farahanipour and
thousands of other pro-democracy activists in Tehran and other cities
were arrested, beaten and tortured.
Because he was a writer, his jailors paid particular attention to his
hands, breaking his fingers repeatedly. After long months held
incommunicado, Farahanipour was released on bail and managed to escape
to the United States in 2001.
Farhanipour will tell the Committee on Wednesday some of the lessons he
and other pro-democracy activists learned from the 1999 uprising, he
told Newsmax in an exclusive preview of his testimony.
One of those lessons was that the pro-democracy movement "needs support
from the outside," he said. "This proposed legislation is one form of
support that we welcome with all our hearts."
He pointed out that Iranian intelligence officers are today murdering
U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and that Iran has again started to seize foreign
"Your legislation sends an important message to the Iranian people, and
to the clerical regime," Farahanipour said. "Your legislation clearly
shows that the people of California will not sit back and allow their
retirement savings to buy technology and bring fresh capital to a
regime of murderers and hostage-takers in Tehran."
Others scheduled to testify include Dr. Taghi Alereza, chairman of the
board of SOS Iran, the Iran of Tomorrow Movement and Mr. Hassan Sadri,
President of the Iranian-American Chamber of Commerce in Sacramento.
Comments in support of the legislation have come in from Iranian groups
as far away as Norway.
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