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Foreign Money in US Campaigns, Even from Porn Companies?

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In the past two weeks the German founder of an international porn distribution company was convicted of tax evasion stemming from charges he had not paid taxes on $100 million in profits, while Reuters reported that American authorities declined to investigate $327,000 in political contributions given by his old company to a political referendum in the US.

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For conservatives the ramifications are scary.

Now that the current management of the company, Manwin International SARL, knows they will not even be questioned in connections with hundreds of thousands of dollars to a local referendum in the U.S., what is to stop them from dedicating millions of dollars to defeat any socially conservative candidate who has concerns such as pornography being readily available to children?

The founder, Fabian Thylmann, gave up the company after being charged back in 2013. He wrote to his successors that, “I hope I have taught all of you and management the right values to be able to continue the company in the best possible way and I am looking forward to following its development,” according to XBIZ.com.

In a follow-up story last month Xbiz.com reported he had been convicted just a few days before Reuters reported that the gridlocked Federal Election Commission could not come to agreement on even investigating the $327,000.

Maybe I’m extra sensitive because I spent most of my life working with social conservatives – from my conservative Catholic High School in Virginia, to Marquette Students for Life in Wisconsin, to working to stop gambling from coming to Alabama.

But even if you are a conservative libertarian and do not share the pro-life, anti-gambling and anti-pornography views I share with social conservatives – are you comfortable with a precedent of hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign money potentially flooding into US elections? Do you really want foreign money to start to influence the government to pick winners and losers if that means preferring a foreign company over a US company? What about the impact of foreign dollars on national security issues?

As conservatives, we cannot continue to dismiss any attempt to change or enforce campaign finance laws as a “liberal” cause. There are in fact liberal campaign finance solutions we should not support.

We must be willing to admit there is a problem and working to ENCOURAGE more small contributions from citizens through approaches such as a tax credit, while working to STOP the influence of foreign dollars should be priorities for conservatives.

John Pudner is Executive Director of Take Back Our Republic, a group focusing on conservative solutions to campaign finance. The group is sponsoring a panel on foreign contributions and national security on May 18 at 2:30 p.m. at the National Press Club.


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