Saturday, Apr 01, 2023

Trump claims immigrants are voting illegally. The real problem is foreign fatcats funding US campaigns

Trump claims immigrants are voting illegally. The real problem is foreign fatcats funding US campaigns

Non-Americans – whose interests don’t necessarily align with the interests of the US – assert growing influence over American politics
In 2017, Donald Trump repeatedly claimed without evidence that between 3 million and 5 million unauthorized immigrants had voted for Hillary Clinton. In the last few weeks, Trump has resurrected his lie during campaign rallies for Republican primary candidates he has endorsed – whipping up fears of “open borders and horrible elections”, and calling for stricter voter ID laws and proof of citizenship at the ballot box.

Trump endorsees and wannabes are amplifying this lie. JD Vance, the Trump-backed winner of last week’s Ohio Republican senate primary, claimed that President Biden’s immigration policy has resulted in “more Democrat voters pouring into this country”.

In fact, voter fraud is exceptionally rare, and claims that widespread numbers of undocumented immigrants are voting have been repeatedly discredited.

There is a problem of foreigners influencing American elections, however – but it has nothing to do with immigrants or fraudulent voting.

It’s foreign money flowing into US campaigns.

Some of the flow is clearly illegal. Last October, Lev Parnas, a Florida businessman who helped Rudy Giuliani’s effort to dig up dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine, was convicted of funneling a Russian entrepreneur’s money to US politicians.

The real scandal is how much foreign money flows into US elections legally.

The US supreme court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission opened the gates. It allows foreigners to influence US elections through their investments in politically active American corporations.

The five-justice conservative majority said that when it comes to political speech, the identity of the speaker is irrelevant, and that more speech is always better.

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens argued that the logic of the court’s ruling would allow foreign spending on American elections, threatening American interests.

Stevens was right. If the identity of the speaker doesn’t matter and more speech is always better, what’s to stop foreign spending on US elections?

Non-Americans whose money is now finding its way into American campaigns – mostly benefiting Republican candidates – include Russian oligarchs, the Saudi royal family, European financiers, Chinese corporate conglomerates and many other people and organizations that owe their allegiance to powers other than the United States.

The growing problem centers on three realities:

First, foreign investors now own a whopping 40% of the shares of American corporations. That’s up from just 5% in 1982.

Second, American corporations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to influence elections – counting their separate corporate political action committees or personal donations by executives and employees. Much of this spending is through dark money channels that opened after the Citizens United decision.

Third, by law, corporate directors and managers are accountable to their shareholders, including foreign shareholders – not to America. As the then-CEO of US-based Exxon Mobil unabashedly stated, “I’m not a US company and I don’t make decisions based on what’s good for the US.”

The second and third points pose substantial threats to American democracy on their own. Add in the first, and you’ve got a sieve through which non-Americans – whose interests don’t necessarily correspond to the interests of the United States – assert growing influence over American politics.

Follow the money. In recent years, Russian billionaire oligarchs have bought significant amounts of Facebook, Twitter and Airbnb. Saudi Arabia owns about 10% of US-based Uber and has a seat on its board.

Many of America’s largest corporations with substantial foreign ownership (including AT&T, Comcast and Citigroup) have contributed millions of dollars to the Republican Attorney Generals Association, which in turn bankrolled the pro-Trump rally on the morning of the January 6 insurrection.

What to do about this? The Center for American Progress has a sensible proposal: it recommends that no US corporation with 5% or more of its stock under foreign ownership or 1% or more controlled by a single foreign owner be allowed to spend money to sway the outcomes of US elections or ballot measures.

Corporate governance experts and regulators agree that these thresholds capture the level of ownership necessary to influence corporate decision-making.

OK, but how to get this proposal enacted, when big American-based corporations with significant foreign investment have so much influence over Congress?

Democrats should make this an issue in the run-up to the 2022 midterms. While Republicans rail against the utterly fake danger to the United States of undocumented immigrants voting in American elections, Democrats should rail against the real danger to American democracy of foreign money affecting American elections through foreign investments in American corporations.

Related Articles

Russia arrested an American reporter for the Wall Street Journal on espionage charges
Don’t Dismiss China’s Peacemaking Bid
China and Brazil have signed a new deal that will allow them to trade in their own currencies, bypassing the US dollar as an intermediary
Elon Musk and Others Call for Pause on A.I., Citing ‘Profound Risks to Society’
Nashville style execution
“We've had evidence prior to the pandemic that masks were largely ineffective at preventing community transmission of influenza “
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz:
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz rejects being labeled a "billionaire"
Jamie Dimon is being deposed over JPMorgan Chase role in Epstein lawsuits
Brand new security footage has just been released to the public showing the Active shooter Audrey Elizabeth Hale drove to Covenant Church School in her Honda Fit this morning, parked, and shot her way into the building
U.S. charges FTX's Bankman-Fried with paying $40 million bribe
Nashville Police release bodycam footage showing officers neutralizing trans shooter of Christian school
Fallen 'Crypto King' Who Owes Millions to Investors Was Kidnapped and Tortured
Regulators blame social media for SVB's rapid collapse: 'Complete game changer'
AOC explains why she opposes banning TikTok
Singapore’s Prime Minister says China and US need to stabilize relations because world can't afford a confict between the two superpowers
Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel Corporation, died at 94
Powell: Silicon Valley Bank was an 'outlier'
Bordeaux town hall set on fire in France pro democracy protest
Police violence in Paris
Donald Trump arrested – Twitter goes wild with doctored pictures
NYPD is setting up barricades outside Manhattan Criminal Court ahead of Trump arrest.
Credit Suisse's Scandalous History Resulted in an Obvious Collapse - It's time for regulators who fail to do their job to be held accountable and serve as an example by being behind bars.
Paris Rioting vs Macron anti democratic law
'Sexual Fantasy' Assignment At US School Outrages Parents
The US government has charged Chinese businessman Guo Wengui with leading a $1 billion fraud scheme that cheated thousands of followers out of their money.
Credit Suisse to borrow $54 billion from Swiss central bank
Russian Hackers Preparing New Cyber Assault Against Ukraine
"Will Fly Wherever International Law Allows": US Warns Russia After Drone Incident
If this was in Tehran, Moscow or Hong Kong
TRUMP: "Standing before you today, I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent World War III."
Drew Barrymore
China is calling out the US, UK, and Australia on their submarine pact, claiming they are going further down a dangerous road
A brief banking situation report
Lady bites police officer and gets instantly reaction
We are witnessing widespread bank fails and the president just gave a 5 min speech then walked off camera.
Donald Trump's asked by Tucker Carlson question on if the U.S. should support regime change in Russia?.
Silicon Valley Bank exec was Lehman Brothers CFO
Elon Musk Is Planning To Build A Town In Texas For His Employees
The Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse effect is spreading around the world, affecting startup companies across the globe
City officials in Berlin announced on Thursday that all swimmers at public pools will soon be allowed to swim topless
Fitness scam
Market Chaos as USDC Loses Peg to USD after $3.3 Billion Reserves Held by Silicon Valley Bank Closed.
Senator Tom Cotton: If the Mexican Government Won’t Stop Cartels from Killing Americans, Then U.S. Government Should
Banking regulators close SVB, the largest bank failure since the financial crisis
Silicon Valley Bank: Struggles Threaten Tech Startup Ecosystem"
Man’s penis amputated by mistake after he’s wrongly diagnosed with a tumour
In a major snub to Downing Street's Silicon Valley dreams, UK chip giant Arm has dealt a serious blow to the government's economic strategy by opting for a US listing
It's the question on everyone's lips: could a four-day workweek be the future of employment?