Lobbyists for foreign corporations begin fight to ensure foreign money can influence American elections

This is Think Progress repost.

Last week, the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision invalidated a sixty-three year-old ban on corporate money in federal elections. The ruling gives corporations essentially the same rights as individuals in their ability to spend freely on political advertising, even if those advertisements explicitly advocate the election or defeat of a federal candidate. One consequence of this decision is that foreign corporations with U.S.-subsidiaries are likely to be able to now spend unlimited amounts on American elections.

Congressional Democrats, led by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), are drafting legislation to curb the influence of foreign corporations and foreign governments following the decision. However, the National Journal reported today that corporate lobbyists representing foreign corporations are already organizing to defeat such a proposal.

The Organization for International Investment, a trade group representing foreign banks, oil companies, and other foreign corporations operating in the United States, “lashed out” at Van Hollen’s proposals. “The concern over foreign influence in our political system is a red herring,” said Nancy McLernon, the head of OII.

McLernon “” who previously worked for Citizens for a Sound Economy, a stealth “grassroots” corporate lobbying group now known as Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks “” is wrong to assert that the danger of foreign lobbying is simply a distraction. For instance, Saudi Arabia has already signaled that the progressive effort to build a clean energy American economy is its “biggest threat“:

Saudi Arabia’s economy depends on oil exports so stands to be one of the biggest losers in any pact that curbs oil demand by penalizing carbon emissions. “It’s one of the biggest threats that we are facing,” said Muhammed al-Sabban, head of the Saudi delegation to U.N. talks on climate change and a senior economic adviser to the Saudi oil ministry. […] Climate talks posed a bigger threat, Sabban said, and subsidies for the development of renewable energy were distorting market economics in the sector, he said.

Presumably because of the Citizens United ruling, Saudi Arabian-owned subsidiaries operating in the United States can now spend unlimited amounts advocating the defeat of candidates who support clean energy legislation. According to a ThinkProgress investigation, foreign-oil backed lobbyists in America are already instigating efforts to kill clean energy legislation. Fortunately, President Obama is expected to address the issue of foreign corporations influencing American elections in his State of the Union address tonight.

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19 Responses to Lobbyists for foreign corporations begin fight to ensure foreign money can influence American elections

  1. Bill Waterhouse says:

    This is an excellent populist issue for Obama.

    Another idea: Since the Supremes say corporations now have 1st Amendment rights just like real people, let’s also tax them at the same rates as real people.

  2. anniversary says:

    So in other words foreign countrys can take control over the US now.

  3. CW says:

    Wow, thanks for setting me straight. Until this, I was thinking that *THE* biggest threat to climate progress (the concept, not the blog) is probably Thursday’s Supreme Court decision. I was blown away that there was no rallying call, figuring that it is the issue that so clearly ALL progressives should be rallying around. Why was there such a small reaction? This decision unlocks the final door to total and complete corporate fascism and corporatism was the single biggest barrier to progress on the climate (not to mention progress on issues of justice, media, rights, trade, democracy, etc.).

    But now it’s clear that the problem isn’t corporate influence on democracy everywhere. It’s FOREIGN corporate influence on American democracy.

    How stupid was I ?!!

  4. anniversary says:

    1, see Oregon voters pass tax increasing measures by big margin
    Oregon voters bucked decades of anti-tax and anti-Salem sentiment Tuesday, raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to prevent further erosion of public schools and other state services.

    The tax measures passed easily, with late returns showing a 54 percent to 46 percent ratio. Measure 66 raises taxes on households with taxable income above $250,000, and Measure 67 sets higher minimum taxes on corporations and increases the tax rate on upper-level profits.

  5. Johnson Hawkins says:

    Marion and Herbert Saandler and G Soroz seems to be getting by with it. They want to bribe the leftist media and bloggers.

  6. David B. Benson says:

    Coporations are not people.

    How does one put them in jail?

  7. anniversary says:

    6, Put oil firm chiefs on trial, says leading climate change scientist
    · Testimony to US Congress will also criticise lobbyists
    · ‘Revolutionary’ policies needed to tackle crisis

  8. 6: David B. Benson says:
    “Corporations are not people.
    How does one put them in jail?”

    Imprison their assets? Before we gave up trying, states used to have the right and the power — which they actually exercised — to dissolve corporations that were shown to be acting in a manner that was contrary to the public good.

    By the bye, if folks have not already done so, I highly recommend the documentary The Corporation:

  9. Dan B says:


    Why is it that the Centerfold Cenator’s (sic) election is called a repudiation of Obama, while Oregon’s election is not called a blow to Obama’s foes?

    Is it because the Mainstream Media Corporations – I’m calling you out NYT – are “too big to fail” without dragging Captain Ahab under the waves? Does the parable within this classic tale apply to these two elections?

    Coakley met with big – “too big to fail” lobbyists, well,… lobbyists for bloated corporate entities. She went under. Scott Brown was financed by “too big corporate 527’s”. He was elected, or is it, he was washed up onto the beach and, after being cleaned up and put in a suit, declared the survivor… er, winner.

    What was it about Oregon’s election that was different?

    Was the message, “Corporate bloat and corruption is unamerican?”

    What about the “message” that propelled this anti-corporatist campaign to overwhelming victory?

  10. Leif says:

    David, #6: Jail? No, but we can fine them. We can charge them for the right to dump pollutants in the air, water, and soil. We can require them to place their collective hand on the Bible and speak the truth with respect to their understanding of global climatic disruption and there actions of mitigation or not. We can demand that the well-being of humanity be considered first and foremost in corporate decisions. We can require “cradle to grave” responsibility for products produced. We can and we must!

    Humanity first, status quo, NO!

  11. anniversary says:

    Dan actualy im not so much into US politics – and know almost nothing about the oregon scene.
    But if i understand you correct – than it means that the oregon people just not had much of a choice left and a critical mass been reached – to swing the opinion. And it has todo with money to keep crucial public services running.
    People likly tend to just be in for the money, which they got in the past. So they might calculated that this point comes and maybe some of them realized that the state started to fail, because of actions – they just had to agree with – which someone else implimented.

    Even ahab could not went on fishery, when there are no whales around.

    And let me quote a comment i catched the other day:

    As for the falsifiers of data, or criminal social parasites, let me switch from the second to the first of my scientific careers, long ago at M.I.T., where I was — a then VERY rare! — theorist in neuroscience, trying to make sense of the human brain as a whole and all the astonishing behavior and abilities it gives rise to.

    A SIDE interest of mine, then and later, was the queer and baffling, and decidedly chilling, phenomenon of the psychopath, a.k.a. sociopath. The essential trait of such people is that have little or no conscience, and yet they can be at the same time profoundly convincing to the layman — i.e., virtually all of us.

    The incidence of these curious and horrific people in the body of the whole of humanity is estimated to be of the order of 1/200. This is misleading, however, because the pathology is a matter of degree, or properly illustrated by an intensity-frequency curve.

    To put it simply, a psychopath can and does lie without a blink, either external or internal. And often does so for profit or simply out of total indifference to the harm he works upon the innocent and the virtuous.

    I have little doubt that the purveyors of purposefully, and dangerously, falsified Global Warming data ARE in many instances psychopaths, whose falsifications tend to put ALL of us at risk.

    Even heads of great corporations can be, in various ways and degrees, psychopathic. (Psychopathy probably had some partly useful — personal OR social — function in the long-ago past of Homo sapiens. It is certainly common enough in our politicians nowadays!)

    — Patrick Michael Gunkel (Princeton, NJ)

    POSTSCRIPT: Two decades ago I was neutral, but skeptical, about global warming. Later I realized that we simply could not tolerate the risks it potentially posed. One does not play games, or take chances, when essentially the whole of civilization and humanity MAY be in peril.

    None of us can escape from the need for such caution, and where even the very survival of our species over Eternity may just be confronted with the possibility of extinction through carelessness or ignorance, or a shallow and selfish morality, or ideology or skepticism, or a universal involvement in petty and personal disputes between men fighting in diapers. (Phenomena we have seen often enough in World Wars and in Wars Ancient, but no less pathetic and mindless.)

    In short, All of the Future hangs by a single tenuous thread from each and ever Present.

  12. mike roddy says:

    Here’s what’s weird: those ten justices are so ideologically driven, and so ignorant about how the world actually works, that not one of them will change his vote after foreign corporations elect people to their liking.

    How do you like Saudi Arabia’s Aramco or Chavez’ Pdvesa choosing a Senator? Get ready for it. And that’s not even counting what they are willing to give under the table.

  13. mike roddy says:

    Sorry, I just got back from a great Peter Ward UW faculty speech and am tired- please change “10” to “5”, of course. Early old age dyslexia strikes in weird ways.

  14. Mark Carroll says:

    It does appear several comments are about putting officers of corporations in jail. Is being an officer a crime? Russia did that with several Oil execs. After sending them tax bills for billions. No due process.
    It is great to see every person has only one vote. The elections are at the polls and not held on wall Street. I don’t watch commercials during election season.

  15. Leif says:

    Mark Carroll: “Is being an officer a crime?” No, I do not feel that being an officer is a crime, however I do feel that Corporations that pursue business practices that are detrimental to the long term survivability of humanity would fall well into a gray area. Spending large amounts of money manipulating congressmen to adjust laws in your favor and against health and survivability of civilizations, ecosystems, ocean viability? You bet! Being the spokesperson for said corporation and responsible for said actions? It sure gets my vote.

  16. James Newberry says:

    You fools. You can not legally prosecute a corporation if they are indemnified. Just what do you think limiting liability for groups of people called corporation means? What do you think the Atomic Insurance Indemnification Act, 1957, says?

    Furthermore, taxing them for carbon while the feds have been pouring trillions of dollars historically into “fuels” (materials mining), is the height of financial lunacy. Like driving with feet on brake and accelerator, very dangerous, i.e. corrupting.

    Global plutocratic, and underworld, corporatism now own the US Government. Obama (let’s go nuclear), along with Graham, Kerry, Lieberman (let’s go nuclear) included. All hail Amerika.

    (Where is my nuclear bailout bucket?)

  17. espiritwater says:

    “When Corporations Rule the World” (paperback). We’re screwed.

  18. espiritwater says:

    Doesn’t everyone see this is just a continuation of what happened when bush was in office? This is just one more step. Yes, of course it’s awful and unbelievable. But it was awful and unbelievable when bush and cheney stripped us of our civil rights, created a corporate-owned military (against the laws of the Constitution!), and built concentratin camps, gave trillions to corporations, etc.. Something vile and sinister has happened to our country and it all came about just after 9-11. It’s happening just exactly like the book predicted. (The book, “Crossing the Rubicon– the decline of the American empire”)