In 2017, Donald Trump repeatedly claimed without evidence that between 3 million and 5 million unauthorized immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton. Over the past month, Trump has revived his lying during rallies for Republican candidates he approved, raising fears of “open borders and horrific elections” and calling for stricter identity and voter identification laws at the ballot box.
Trump supporters and potential supporters amplify this lie. J.D. Vance, the winner of the Trump-backed Ohio Senate primary, said President Biden’s immigration policy has led to “more Democratic voters pouring into this country.”
In fact, election fraud is exceptionally rare, and claims that a large number of undocumented immigrants vote have been repeatedly questioned.
there he is The problem of foreigners affecting US elections, but it has nothing to do with immigrants or voter fraud. It’s foreign money flowing into the American countryside.
Obviously, part of the streaming is illegal. Last October, Lev Parnas, a Florida businessman who helped Rudy Giuliani discover Joe Biden in Ukraine, was convicted of funneling a Russian businessman’s money to US politicians.
But the real scandal is how much foreign money is legally flowing into the US elections.
The decision of the Court of Cassation for the year 2010 Citizens United Against the Federal Election Commission The gates opened. Foreigners are allowed to influence US elections through their investments in politically active US companies. A conservative majority of the five justices said that when it comes to political speech, the identity of the speaker is irrelevant and more speech is always better.
In the case of dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens argued that the logic of the court’s decision would allow foreign spending on US elections, threatening US interests. Stevens was right: If a speaker’s identity doesn’t matter and more speeches is always better, what’s stopping foreign spending on US elections?
Of the non-Americans whose money is now finding its way into the American countryside, primarily for Republican candidates, include Russian oligarchs, the Saudi royal family, European financiers, Chinese conglomerates, and many other individuals and organizations who owe allegiance to powers other than the United States.
The growing problem hinges on three facts:
First, foreign investors now own 40% of the shares of US companies. This is only 5 percent in 1982.
Second, US companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars to influence elections, counting their PACs or personal donations from CEOs and employees. Much of this spending happens through the dark money channels that were opened after the Citizens United decision.
Third, by law, corporate directors and directors are accountable to their shareholders, including foreign shareholders, and not to America. As the then-CEO of US Exxon Mobil put it bluntly: “I’m not an American company and I don’t make decisions based on what’s good for the United States.”
Points two and three alone represent substantive threats to American democracy. Add the first and you will find a sieve through which non-Americans, whose interests do not necessarily coincide with those of the United States, claim to have an increasing influence on American politics.
Follow the money. In recent years, Russian billionaires have bought large amounts of Facebook, Twitter and Airbnb. Saudi Arabia owns about 10% of the US company Uber and has a seat on its board of directors.
Many of the largest US corporations with significant foreign ownership (including AT&T, Comcast and Citigroup) contributed millions of dollars to the Republican Attorney General’s Association, which in turn funded the pro-Trump rally on the morning of the January 6 uprising.
What to do about it? The Center for American Progress makes a reasonable suggestion: It recommends that no US company with 5% or more of its foreign-owned stock or 1% or more controlled by a single foreign owner should be able to spend money to influence the outcome of US elections or electoral procedures.
Corporate governance experts and regulators agree that these thresholds determine the level of ownership required to influence corporate decision-making.
Well, but how is this proposal to be implemented, when the large US corporations with significant foreign investment have such a huge influence on Congress?
Democrats should make it a problem before mid-2022.
While Republicans criticize the wholly false danger to the United States from undocumented immigrants voting in US elections, Democrats should criticize the real danger to American democracy from foreign money affecting US elections through foreign investment in US companies.
Robert B. Reich is an American political commentator, professor, and author. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. The last Reich book, The system: who did it and how to solve itShe’s outside now.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.