Ilegal donations?

Oct 072010

For the better part of half a century it’s been illegal for foreign governments, individuals and companies to contribute money to American elections and for anyone to directly solicit money from those entities. But it seems U.S. law may not apply to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been directly soliciting foreign donors and has poured $75 million into campaigns –– mostly Republican –– this election.

According to a report issued Tuesday by the liberal policy group the Center for American Progress, the Chamber is getting “dues” payments that number in the tens of thousands of dollars from companies from all over the world including in Egypt, India and Bahrain and then has grouped that money in with the money it uses to advocate for various political campaigns.

The Chamber has flat out denied that allegation, saying its accounting practices ensure that no foreign money goes to campaign advocacy or the more than 8,000 political ads it has run about various November campaigns.

With closed books and the law protecting the Chamber from having to disclose its donors, it’s impossible for anyone to verify the Chamber’s defense, but the report does show that the chamber raises money through its international affiliates by making members pay thousands of dollars to join.

To top it off, despite what seems to be an outright breach of federal law and U.S. tax code, neither the Internal Revenue Service nor the Federal Elections Commission seem to be doing anything about it or even opening an investigation.

The Supreme Court’s ruling this year to invalidate much of America’s campaign finance law was a dangerous decision alone. If the federal government’s regulating agencies are unwilling or unable to uphold the remaining campaign finance laws such as the one banning foreign contributions this country will truly find itself buried in special interest money.

 Posted by at 2:54 pm

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