The Alaska Dispatch has a new story on foreign corporate spending on our elections. Excerpts are below.

Caveat: while the article accurately notes that it’s illegal for foreign individuals to spend money to influence U.S. elections, the article is incorrect in asserting that such spending by corporations is also illegal. Unfortunately for all of us, Citizens United removed such restrictions on corporate spending, which is one of many serious reasons we must overturn it with a constitutional amendment.

Foreign corporations funnel millions into US elections, campaign watchdogs say
Adrianne Appel, Oct 23, 2012

(Excerpts:)

Global corporations from Spain to Ireland to Singapore are spending millions to influence the outcome of the high-stakes US presidential and congressional elections. Records show that scores of banks, liquor manufacturers and telecom companies outside the United States have directed $12.8 million in political action committee (PAC) money to the 2012 US elections so far — and likely much higher amounts through other means that are not traceable…

More than $300 million in PAC money, funds that corporations create, has gone to 2012 political candidates so far. Watchdogs allege that non-US companies circumvent election laws by creating PACs through their US subsidiaries and by asking their US employees to donate.

While it’s not possible to know the extent to which foreign parent companies are driving campaign donations, some US subsidiaries have been highly active contributors.

Anheuser-Busch, which is now owned by the Belgium-based beer giant InBev, has so far given $327,000 to Democrats and $314,000 to Republicans, including $5,000 to presidential candidate Mitt Romney. And BAE Systems, a UK defense contractor, gave $237,000 to Democrats and $372,000 to Republicans, according to analyses by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group.

US bases of businesses from debt-strapped countries also sent money to US politicians. Compass Bancshares, the US subsidiary of Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), recently gave $61,000 to Democrats and $141,000 to Republicans. Italy’s DRS Technologies, a defense contract unit of Finmeccanica SpA, gave $141,000 to Democrats and $206,000 to Republicans. Ireland’s Oldcastle Materials gave $62,000 to Democrats and $83,000 to Republicans….

The local subsidiary of Singapore’s largest container shipping company, Neptune Orient, gave $6,000 to Democrats and $29,000 to Republicans. An exception is Japan’s Sony Entertainment, which gave $98,000 to Democrats and $72,000 to Republicans.

Few of the foreign-connected, corporate PACs made direct donations to Mitt Romney (Obama does not accept PAC money). However, another potential route for corporations to influence elections is to encourage their US employees and their relatives to do so. Credit Suisse, the financial giant, gave zero to Romney through its US corporate PAC. But the company’s employees and relatives gave $554,000 to Romney through hundreds of small donations. Credit Suisse employees gave $38,500 to Obama, according to data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics…

(For the full story, click here.)