Foreigners have long tried to influence America’s elections though illicit campaign contributions, and a new report by the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) found foreigners no longer need middlemen to circumvent America’s campaign finance laws. Instead, they can undermine America’s sovereignty with a click -- or multiple clicks -- of the mouse.
Peter Schweizer, president of GAI, told Breitbart News the ease with which foreigners could donate to American candidates puts America’s sovereignty in peril.
“Foreign donations mean that we no longer make our election decisions anymore,” Schweizer told Breitbart News.
In addition to the mysterious Obama.com site, which is not owned by the Obama campaign but redirects visitors to my.barackobama.com, there are sites across the globe -- from Asia to Europe to the Middle East and North Africa -- that encourage foreigners to donate to Obama’s campaign and link directly to the campaign’s website. Here are some examples the GAI report unearthed.
China: The GAI report found that a Chinese blogger who reposted letters he has received from the Obama campaign. Each of these letters contains a solicitation for $3 or $5, which do not have to be be publicly disclosed under FEC regulations.
Azerbaijan: The Obama campaign sent a solicitation e-mail to “Hikemt Hadjy-Zadh,” an Azerbaijani citizen and Hadjy-Zadh posted these letters on Azerbaijani discussion forms that linked directly to the Obama campaign’s donation page.
Vietnam: The GAI found that a Vietnamese writer for The Vietnam Institute for Development Studies, a government-backed think tank, posted emails he has received from my.barackobama.com “with more than 24 total links to the campaign’s donate page embedded in the emails.”
One of the letters on the website is from Mitch Stewart, Director of the Obama campaign’s “Organizing for America,” who the report notes, with irony, once lamented the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is reportedly taking money from foreign sources.
Netherlands: According to the GAI report, the Dutch blog “His Dirk” received a donation request from the campaign. Though the blogger did not contribute, he observed, “I imagine many non-Americans have money transferred to the Obama campaign. It’s just too easy.”
Italy: A member of the Italian Radical Socialist movement reposted solicitations from the Obama campaign, which he said he regularly received for three years.
Japan: A Japanese blogger named Isogaya posted a link to the Obama campaign’s donation page. When posting the link, Isogaya noted that a gift card is one method for giving to the campaign.
Norway: A Norwegian blogger posted a solicitation from the Obama campaign, including the link to the donate page. When another blogger objected that non-U.S. citizens cannot contribute because of American law, the blogger responded in Norwegian,“I have in practice given money to Obama, I had done it.”
Egypt: A blogger in Egypt who serves on the board of the Union of Arab Bloggers posted solicitation letters from the Obama campaign, writing, "We as Arabs and Muslims” support the “Democratic party, compared to the Republican Party," even as he objected to Obama's evolving views on same-sex marriage.
Taiwan: Recent fundraising solicitations from Obama appeared on Facebook's Taiwanese version.
South Korea: Obama Campaign director Jim Messina tweets that solicited money for Obama campaign events appeared on a South Korean imitation of Twitter.
Hong Kong: Obama campaign bundler Steve Westly’s online solicitations can easily be found on social networking sites in Hong Kong.
These examples show how easy it is for foreigners to donate to the Obama campaign, especially because the Obama campaign does not use the Credit Verification Value (CVV) security measure for its online donations. In addition, donors who donate less than $200 do not have to be publicly disclosed, per Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations.
As the GAI study noted, in 1966, Congress amended the Foreign Agents Registration Act to make it a felony for a candidate to knowingly receive or solicit foreign donations or for a “foreign principal” to “use an agent to contribute to domestic campaigns.” Senator William Fulbright said then the law was necessary to protect “the integrity of the decision-making process of our Government” and to guard from the realities of foreign entities using more than “diplomatic means to influence government policies.”
In 1976, Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas “proposed an amendment to the Foreign Agents Registration Act that would bar all foreign nationals, aside from resident aliens, from contributing to domestic campaigns.”
Bentsen said he did “not think foreign nations have any business in our political campaigns. They cannot vote in our elections, so why should we allow them to finance our elections? Their [foreign nations’] loyalties lie elsewhere; they lie with their own countries and their own governments.”
His amendment passed and gave the FEC the power of policing illicit foreign contributions.
In January 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld U.S. laws against foreign money to protect America's sovereignty, ruling such laws to be constitutional. But the Internet has made it easier for foreigners to go around these laws and, in doing so, potentially erode America's sovereignty.