In the wake of the Citizens United decision, and during the State of the Union address, President Obama created some controversy when he warned of the possibility of foreign funds finding their way into the American electoral process. Justice Samuel Alito visibly disagreed with the President’s claim as did the Chief Justice when later asked about the exchange.
Perhaps the Justices would like an opportunity to revise those thoughts.
As first reported by Think Progress, the US Chamber of Commerce has spent an unprecedented $75 million in efforts to defeat Democrats and to lobby against health care reform and financial services reform. That’s not the scandalous part. The scandalous part is where that money is coming from.
By its own admission the Chamber is receiving foreign sources of funding, including from foreign companies in India and Bahrain. Some of those companies include foreign state-owned companies such as the State Bank of India and the Bahrain Petroleum Company. That money goes directly into the Chamber’s political arm and is spent on political advertising and contributions.
In the wake of the report Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) wrote to the FEC to launch an investigation into the practice and insist that foreign companies prove whether or not their funds had been used in campaign activities.
The further out we get from the Citizens United decision, the worse its effects. Perhaps, if there is a silver lining in all this money and corruption, it is that corporate interests have shown once again their willingness to overreach, even so far as to not bat an eye when foreign money comes in to influence Congressional races. Usually it is that kind of overreach that leads to systemic change. Here’s hoping for the sake of our democracy that’s the case.
photo courtesy of Tracy O via Flickr
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