From Informed Comment
As I pointed out last week, the most powerful intervention in US politics allowing foreign influence in US elections, which contributed to Trump’s victory in 2016, was the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, (2010) decision. Like Michaelangelo’s God creating Adam with a pointing finger, SCOTUS created out of thin air a doctrine that corporations are persons. They added to this ridiculous conclusion their previous creatio ex nihilo, the terminally stupid argument that money is speech and so money in politics can’t be regulated. The result is that corporations can now donate on their own to Super-Pacs. Since corporations are often opaque as to ownership and since foreigners can be prominent on their boards, SCOTUS has allowed foreigners to donate to and influence US elections
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Rudy Giuliani, were arrested attempting to leave the US with one-way tickets to Austria, after they had been subpoenaed to testify before the House.
One of the charges on which they were arrested was that they set up a dummy corporation, represented as a gas and oil enterprise but which did not actually exist, calling it Global Energy Producers. GEP then made a donation of $325,000 to America First Action, a pro-Trump political action committee, in May of 2018.
They donated big sums to other PACs via their corporate personhood, funneling money from the Ukraine and $1 million from one Russian businessman alone. Citizens United allowed them to operate anonymously and to give as much as they liked (or as their foreign patrons liked).
They also used GEF to influence Republican congressman Pete Sessions to write a letter to secretary of state Mike Pompeo, demanding that he fire the US ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
They also did illegal fundraisers for Florida governor Ron DeSantis, helping him win the governorship.
I wrote last week:
At The Intercept, Jon Schwarz and Lee Fang explained that Citizens United (2010) changed everything, allowing corporations to contribute their own money to Super-PACs, with the only restriction that they not directly coordinate with the candidates’ campaigns (a vague restriction, the contravention of which is almost impossible to prove).
Citizens United, by bestowing political person-hood on corporations, opened US elections to foreign money in several ways, they point out.
Ghost corporations, the ownership of which is opaque, can be set up precisely for the purpose of contributing to super-PACs. The FEC is underfunded and castrated and lacks the resources and the will to look into the actual owners of the ghost corporations.
Further, some 25% of securities in US corporations are owned by foreign nationals, and it is absolutely impossible to sequester foreign and US interests within these corporations or the super-PACs they support.
Non-profit foundations can also contribute to super-PACs. They write,
Nor is there any prospect of this situation improving. When Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed on the Supreme Court, I wrote,
So arguably if you’re upset about soliciting or permitting foreign interference in US elections, John Roberts is somebody you should look at impeaching.