Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Foreign Money Buying U.S. Elections?

When the Supreme Court issued its Citizens United decision, thus ending nearly a century of campaign finance law, the outrage was justifiable and spread across the entire political spectrum. Liberals, moderates and conservatives all blanched at the thought of unlimited corporate money funneling into the electoral process; many rightly predicted dire consequences in future elections.

Fast-forward to now, less than a month before the 2010 midterms, and it looks like a lot of those fears were well-founded. After all, you've got entities like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads pouring millions upon millions of dollars in attack ads against Democrats, and the website Think Progress has investigated the source of that money.

Investigated because under the law after Citizens United, organizations like the Chamber of Commerce don't have to disclose who their donors are.

Still, using money from foreign entities to fund elections in the United States in legal, and Think Progress has found that some of the money used in those attack ads -- $75 million worth from the Chamber alone -- might've come from foreign companies.

That's right; according to Think Progress, the Chamber of Commerce is using money brought in from companies in India and Bahrain, to name a few, to run attack ads on Democrats.

The Chamber has denied the allegations on numerous occasions, and Rove went absolutely bonkers on Fox News after President Obama and Vice President Biden used the reality of foreign money in our elections in their stump speeches over the past week. But don't be fooled; Think Progress has done solid work reporting this issue -- far better than the mainstream media -- and given the state of the right-wing today, would this really surprise you?

For a simple breakdown of the issue, Think Progress has created a graph breaking down how the Chamber's foreign contributions might be funneling into political attack ads. Check out the graphic here.

Like I said, this isn't a surprise. We knew this might be reality once Citizens United became the law of the land. Nothing short of a constitutional amendment undoing the Supreme Court's decision will ultimately undo the damage, as campaign finance reform is next to impossible; even passing legislation requiring full disclosure of political donations might not be enough in this environment.

The right-wing noise machine is getting louder, richer and more powerful in its opposition to President Obama and Democrats in general. Combine that with the passion and anger of the Tea Party, and it's not too hard to imagine the future if the extreme right and its corporate backers the world over get their way.

We fought so hard for change two years ago, and the extreme right is threatening to undo everything we've accomplished -- and stave off what we can accomplish in the coming years. It's definitely an uphill battle at this point, but the fight for equality and fair economics in this country must be waged in full.

The other side might out-spend us, but we have to make sure they don't out-vote or out-fight us. They want to take our country back, we have to move it forward. Do you want foreign conglomerates deciding what happens to America, or are you going to decide for yourself?

I'm choosing the latter. I hope you're with me.Justify Full

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