How Foreign Money Is Influencing U.S. Politics

How Foreign Money Is Influencing U.S. Politics

Hot on the heels of revelations that Hillary Clinton failed to report tens of millions of dollars in politically related charity contributions the Federal Election Commission has declined to investigate foreign funding of a campaign to defeat a Los Angeles County ballot measure.

The measure was opposed by an international conglomerate, raising fears that foreign funds are flooding into U.S. elections.

The ballot measure in question required adult film stars to wear condoms while making movies.

While the initiative still passed, a California HIV-AIDS advocacy group filed a complaint charging that $327,000 in contributions made by two pornography distributors tied to Manwin International SARL, a global pornography and advertising firm, were in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act, which prohibits foreign nationals from donating to U.S. campaigns.

The FEC's three Democratic commissioners, including Chairwoman Ann Ravel, voted to investigate the origination of the funds and assess whether or not to fine the California organization that opposed the ballot measure for accepting the funds.

However the FEC's three Republican commissioners voted not to pursue an investigation, citing an arcane rule that the ban on foreign donations does not apply to local ballot initiatives.

These types of FEC deadlocks are a common occurrence and mean that no probe will ensue.

The issue, especially in light of Hillary Clinton receiving staggering amounts of foreign money, underscore the urgent need for campaign finance reform. Even small amounts of money can tip the scales in obscure American communities and give foreigners control over our democracy they should not have.

But it will take significant voter pressure to upend the status quo. Campaign finance reform is notoriously avoided by our elected officials as it effects their personal fortunes and legacies. But their unwillingness to revise the current system is now allowing non-American interests to set our policies and laws.

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