The Best Gubmint Foreign Money Can Buy

Follow the Ameros!

Totally not making this up (Axios, so weird formatting is all theirs):

The Federal Election Commission has ruled foreign donors can finance U.S. referendum campaigns, opening the door to foreign spending on fights over high-profile policy issues, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Foreign nationals are barred from donating to U.S. political candidates or committees. But the FEC’s decision — allowing them to support ballot committees — provides another avenue for foreigners to directly influence U.S. voters and domestic policy…

Driving the news: In a 4-2 vote in July, the FEC ruled ballot initiatives are not “elections” under existing federal law, and therefore the foreign donation prohibition doesn’t apply.

In other words, state and local elections (not candidates) can be influenced, and boy-howdy, talk about cutting out the middleman!

The big picture: There are already 61 referenda on state ballots in 2022, according to electoral research service Ballotpedia. The decision has the potential to affect not just policy initiatives, but the mechanics of U.S. democracy itself.

  • Issues such as congressional redistricting are frequently settled via state referenda. The FEC’s decision could put wealthy foreigners in a position to influence that process.
  • The opposing view is the federal ban on foreign donations “in connection with” an election bars funding for such measures — regardless of whether they’re litigated via ballot question.
  • That issue wasn’t addressed in the FEC’s decision this week.

Redistricting. The foreign money can influence who gets to fight that proposed oil well in the middle of your drinking water. But I’m making that up. Give us a real example, please.

The backstory: The decision stemmed from a 2018 complaint alleging a Canadian subsidiary of Australian firm Sandfire Resources illegally financed a measure to block new restrictions on hard rock mining in Montana.

  • David Brooks, the executive director of Montana Trout Unlimited and one of the complainants in the case, called the FEC ruling “surprising and scary” in an emailed statement to Axios.
  • “Are we, as U.S. citizens, really OK with letting foreign money go directly to state lawmaking via citizen initiative campaigns?”

Sandfire did not respond to a request for comment. The Montana Mining Association, which spearheaded opposition to the 2018 ballot measure, also did not respond to inquiries.

I cannot imagine how some entity might really like to get their oil pipeline built. Just sayin’.

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3 Responses to The Best Gubmint Foreign Money Can Buy

  1. skinnydennis says:

    Unfuckingbelievable. Corporatocracy firmly in place.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I left that comment on the previous thread BEFORE reading this one! Honest!

    Liked by 1 person

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