Earlier, I commented on the NRA’s first non-response to Sen. Ron Wyden’s inquiry about possible Russian financial contributions.
Sen. Wyden persevered and followed up with another request. The NRA was somewhat more forthcoming in its second response, but was still somewhat evasive.
I have, as a single file, posted Sen. Wyden’s second request, the NRA’s response thereto, and, finally, Sen. Wyden’s most recent follow-up, here.
5 thoughts on “Deflection, Part III”
Sen. Wyden's request is disingenuous. There is no law preventing foreign money supporting campaigning in the US. Singling out the NRA for taking advantage of a failed campaign finance regulation system in the US is merely an attempt to smear one particular political opponent. The solution would be to recover the transparency for ALL campaign finances from ALL sources from ALL donors that was lost in recent Supreme Court decisions, if such a thing is even possible.
Maybe I don't understand what you'e saying. The FEC website says: "In general, foreign nationals are prohibited from the following activities: Making any contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or making any expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement in connection with any federal, state or local election in the United States; Making any contribution or donation to any committee or organization of any national, state, district, or local political party (including donations to a party nonfederal account or office building account); Making any disbursement for an electioneering communication."
Or are you saying that as a result of Citizens United, this part of election law is unenforceable? That's what Obama implied in a SOTU that drew a silent "not true" from Justice Alito; "Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections," Obama said. "Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities." I need to refresh myself on CU, but as far as I'm aware, it didn't strike down the ban on foreign contributions. Apparently, Alito didn't think so either, or he just got so worked up by the Kenyan poseur pretending to be President that he temporarily forgot what CU says.
Let's see whether we can parse this out. Can foreign corporations contribute to US campaigns? Well, no and yes. You cannot have a foreign corporation directly contribute to a US campaign, but most significant foreign corporations have US subsidiaries. Since the US subsidiaries can contribute, as a practical matter the "foreign corporation" limitation is virtually meaningless.
Second, the issue is far broader than merely campaign contributions. The NRA's responses are designed to limit the inquiry to campaign contributions, but, by so doing, the NRA's not addressing the huge public propaganda efforts it mounts.
Thus, the question is how much money does the NRA get in total from foreign sources?
There is actually a small and useless fig leaf that says subsidiaries can only contribute if the foereign parent corporation does not participate in the contribution decision.
But I have a related concern.
I have been unable to find a clear definition of the term "foreign corporation" for election law purposes. What is it? Is a corporation chartered in the US but majority owned by foreigners a foreign corporation? What if the foreigners don't actually hold a majority of the shares, but do have a large enough holding to exercise control as a practical matter?
52 USC § 30121(a)(1)(A) makes it unlawful for a "foreign national" to contribute to "a Federal, State, or local election." It also makes it illegal for a person to "to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national." 52 USC § 30121(b)(1) defines "foreign national" "to be a foreign principal, as such term is defined by" 22 USC § 611(b).
22 USC § 611(b) defines "foreign principal" to include "a partnership, association, corporation, organization, or other combination of persons organized under the laws of or having its principal place of business in a foreign country."
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