Before we dive into the frenzied attack some on the Left are mounting against the US Chamber of Commerce, let’s look at the record, shall we? While the Left is concerned today about the possibility of foreign money influencing elections, how vigilant have they been in the past? Let’s consider their scrutiny of some notable episodes in the past.
Al Gore’s fundraising at the Buddhist Temple? A search on google does not turn up much from the liberal media. A search for the name “Maria Hsia” shows that there wasn’t much of an effort on the Left to determine what Al Gore knew about her activities. Instead, he got a pass.
When President Obama’s campaign specifically disabled the ability of his online donation tool to track foreign donations, it got hardly any notice on the Left or in the mainstream media. To this date, there has been very little attention to Obama’s foreign donations, despite strong evidence that his campaign made a specific decision to accept such illegal contributions.
The multi-national Marxist front group International Answer works closely with many on the American left, but none of its apologists in the United States seem too concerned about its shadowy foreign funding sources. The AFL-CIO is one American organization that partners with International Answer. But again, you won’t see Think Progress questioning the propriety or legality of their operations. The AFL-CIO also boasts of its coordination with the International Trade Union Confederation.
We will not mention the influence of George Soros on the Left, even though much of his fortune derives from earnings abroad. Wherever his money comes from, Soros does hold US citizenship. Hence his political activities merit no more attention than any other American citizen’s.
Given the Left’s lack of attention to any previous instance of foreign money actually influencing American elections through donations to candidates of the Left, its hard to get too excited about their complaints that a non-partisan organization with international affiliates is involved in US politics. As Paul Mirengoff explains:
The allegation is that, in the words of Think Progress, “the Chamber is likely skirting longstanding campaign finance law that bans the involvement of foreign corporations in American elections.” Supposedly, the Chamber is doing so by using money from foreign corporations associated with Chamber affiliates overseas in U.S. elections.
I’d like to make three points about this claim. First, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to support it. The Chamber says it has a process in place to ensure that foreign funds are not spent in U.S. elections. If so, as I understand it, there is no unlawful conduct. Moreover, neither Think Progress nor any those who picked up their claim, appears to have any evidence that contradicts what the Chamber says. Simply put, the left’s attack on the Chamber appears to be made up out of whole cloth.
Second, as the Center for Competitive Politics points out, there is a serious tension between the claim of Think Progress and other leftists that the Chamber’s alleged conduct violates the law and the standard leftist talking point that the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United opened the floodgates to foreign spending in U.S. elections. In reality, as Think Progress’ allegations of illegality against the Chamber acknowledge, foreign spending in U.S. elections remains illegal. Again, however, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that the Chamber is facilitating such foreign spending.
Third, Think Progress’ fallback position is that even if the Chamber isn’t putting foreign money into American campaigns, money is fungible, so that foreign money frees up other money for campaigns. But to the extent this argument has any validity, it also applies to a number of unions. The AFL-CIO has a robust foreign program. Moreover, as the Center for Competitive Politics notes, the Service Employees International Union represents employees in Canada. So does the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. And the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has members not just in Canada but also in Panama and several Caribbean nations. Don’t their dues free up money that these powerhouse unions can use in U.S. political campaigns?
Again, this is a case of panicked and depressed liberal activists trying to set up the post-election narrative. They lost not because the American people rejected their extreme agenda. Instead, they lost because a team of shadowy and well-financed international organizations orchestrated the results.
It might be time for the team at Think Progress to step away from the keyboard and get a little fresh air. Their histrionics suggest some oxygen-starvation.