U.S. PIRG: 'Keeping foreign money out of our elections should be a crystal clear issue'


On the heels of recent news reports about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s possible use of funds from foreign interests and foreign governments, in addition to various corporate special interests, to influence American elections, the non-partisan U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) released the following statement:

Foreign Funds in American Elections

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2010 – This week we learned that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce could be using money from foreign corporations to fund attack ads in our elections. According to reporting released by Think Progress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce collects hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign owned businesses, including companies owned by foreign governments.

The Chamber has already run more than 8,000 attack ads and according to the Washington Post, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “vows to spend $75 million or more on November’s midterm election cycle.”

The Chamber claims that they have not spent these resources on their $75 million national electoral campaign, but has offered no tangible evidence or documentation to back up this claim.

“This eye-opening revelation goes far beyond basic disclosure of campaign expenditures. It goes to the heart of the problem opened up by the Citizens United decision. Accepting foreign corporate money into the same account from which it is funding unlimited attack ads truly crosses the line,” comments U.S. PIRG Democracy Advocate Lisa Gilbert .

In addition, the Chamber’s response to this question of mingling foreign and domestic dues has been inadequate. A spokeswoman told a Washington Post reporter, “We don’t feel obligated to answer that question.”

“Voters from both parties are beyond weary of the influence that big money interests have in Washington, and this egregious information is likely to be the final straw for the public.

Keeping foreign money out of our elections should be a crystal clear issue, but now that we’ve opened the floodgates for corporations to play in an unlimited way in our elections, we should not be surprised when foreign corporations want to join in the fun,” added Gilbert.

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