Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Foreign Money In U.S. Elections-- One Swamp Trump Has No Intention Of Draining


ProgressivePunch is an imperfect tool for evaluating how candidates perform, but it can be-- if not used as a blunt instrument-- a useful tool in putting together a comprehensive picture. And it's certainly better than any of the other systems I know of that evaluate and score congressional votes. We've mentioned several times that some of the Class of 2016 freshmen have turned out as dreadful as we expected them to. The worst of the lot are routinely voting with the Republicans on crucial issue after crucial issue-- Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL), Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ), Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ), Tom Suozzi (NY), Jacky Rosen (NV), Lou Correa (Blue Dog-CA), Charlie Crist (FL)...

But it's also worth looking at who is out-performing and already showing leadership potential. There are half a dozen freshmen who went right to the top of the class:
Pramila Jayapal (WA)- 100
Jamie Raskin (MD)- 90.91
Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE)- 90.91
Ro Khanna (CA)- 90.91
Adriano Espaillat (NY)- 90.91
Nanette Barragán (CA)- 90.0
And it takes more than just a good voting record, of course. We've been following closely how Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna have distinguished themselves, leading on new trail-blazing agenda items well beyond what Democrats can expect from their own leadership. This week, in the midst of all the tumult over Putin-Gate and Trump's treasonous role in connivance with the Russians, Jamie Raskin approached the problem of foreign interference in American elections from another perspective. Common Cause brought it to my attention:
After foreign entities manipulated our 2016 elections, we must protect ourselves against foreign sources of money that can further erode the integrity of our elections,” said Aaron Scherb, Common Cause’s director of legislative affairs. “With more than $650 million in secret political money, some of which was likely from foreign sources, during the last three federal elections, foreign governments and entities potentially hostile to U.S. interests can continue to infiltrate our elections. Common Cause commends Representative Raskin for introducing the Get Foreign Money Out of U.S. Elections Act so we can restore faith and confidence in our election processes.
Raskin introduced H.R. 1615, the purpose of which is to close the foreign money loophole for corporate spending. Since the bulk of this foreign corporate cash goes right to Republicans, none of them have signed on to Raskin's bill. 26 Democrats did however, including Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) and Beto O'Rourke (D-TX).

Adelson should be in prison

You may be thinking that current law already bars individual foreign nationals from personally contributing to federal campaigns and you'd be right. But foreign political spending can still take place via American-registered corporations that are foreign subsidiaries, foreign-owned, or foreign-controlled and influenced, all thanks to the Citizens United ruling. Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, for example launders immense amounts of foreign money to the Republicans this way. Last year alone, they funneled $10 million to Paul Ryan's Congressional Leadership Fund, $20 million to Future45, a SuperPAC that helped Trump, $7.5 million to McConnell's Senate Leadership Fund, over a million to help McCain's reelection and hundreds of thousands more to right-wing candidates everywhere in the country, as well as to state Republican parties in Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, Arkansas, California, Nevada, Wisconsin and New Jersey. And that just two assholes of many-- too many. Raskin, a constitutional law professor. explained what he's trying to accomplish with the bill:
When the Supreme Court invented corporate free speech rights in Citizens United, it created a massive foreign money loophole in our country’s campaign finance system. The problem is that domestically registered corporations can be taken-over, bought-up, controlled, or influenced by foreign corporations and foreign nationals, and this means foreign powers have an easy and perfectly lawful way to funnel foreign money into American elections.

Foreign interests have already spent many millions of dollars on U.S. political campaigns, and we just witnessed unprecedented foreign efforts to undermine our democracy during the 2016 election cycle. We must protect the integrity of American democracy and close this dangerous foreign money loophole. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work with me to build a wall of separation between foreign money and democratic elections.
Ryan and McCarthy sent the bill over to the House Committee on House Administration, where a useless chairman, Gregg Harper of Mississippi will bottle it up. Zoe Lofgren, a committee member, has already signed on as a co-sponsor but if any of these Republicans represents your district, please consider e-mailing him or her and letting them know how you feel about foreign money in U.S. elections:
Robert Brady (D-PA)
Rodney Davis (R-IL)
Barbara Comstock (R-VA)
Mark Walker (R-NC)
Adrian Smith (R-NE)
Barry Loudermilk (R-GA)

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