ThinkProgress breaks a fascinating story: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which plans to spend $75 million this year promoting Republican candidates, spends its political money out of its general fund, which openly solicits foreign donors.
When challenged, the Chamber replies that it has careful controls in place (which of course it doesn’t specify; the contributions are secret). Speaking of the American Chambers of Commerce (AmChams), its overseas arms – whose members submit their dues payments directly to the Chamber’s general fund, out of which it buys political ads, a Chamber spokesman says:
AmChams are independent organizations and they do not fund political programs in the United States. We have a system in place for ensuring that they are not government-controlled entities.
Note that the “system” ensures that the AmChams themselves are not “government-controlled,” not that they do not solicit money from government-controlled firms: money that goes directly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce general fund, which then buys political ads.
Under the wonderful system created by the Citizens United decision, firms owned by the Russian and Chinese and Saudi governments can help fund campaigns that shape the American political process. Sometimes I’m surprised that those American flag pins don’t jump off Republican politicians’ lapels.