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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Romney's overseas fundraising: Questionable -- or illegal?

In a previous post, we noted allegations that Mitt Romney held fundraisers overseas. Donations from foreign nationals would contravene American electoral law.

We know that one event took place London, at a $25,000 per couple dinner. Romney's hosts were located at the center of the LIBOR scandal:
One of the fundraisers was originally supposed to be hosted by Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays - until Diamond pulled out following his resignation from the company, which paid more than $450 million for allegedly trying to manipulate the interbank interest rate. The Washington Post reported that one of the co-chairs of the fundraiser, Barclay's lobbyist Patrick Durkin, has helped raise more than $1 million for Romney.

In response to Romney's fundraisers, a group of British lawmakers called on "Barclays and its executives to cease fundraising for political candidates immediately and to concentrate entirely on repairing confidence and trust in the banking system instead." The liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change, meanwhile, released a web video saying that "Big banks write checks for Romney so they can write their own rules." 
That wording certainly conveys the impression that executives for Barclays -- a British bank -- donated to Romney.

Another event took place in Israel. From Veterans Today:
During his next international stop, at a closed 50,000-dollar-a-plate fundraiser for Israeli sworn citizens and American donors, he credited Israel’s “providence “and “culture” for the economic disparity between Israelis and Palestinians.

Romney walked out of the small private event with one million dollars for his presidential campaign.
But the question is: Were the contributors Israeli or American? Haaretz published this story before the event:
Romney arrives on Saturday, which is Tisha B'av, when Jews fast to commemorate the destruction of their holy temples. The fast will take place on Sunday, and about 90 minutes after it ends, Romney will attend a $50,000 dollars-a-plate fundraising event in Jerusalem. Since only U.S. citizens can legally donate to political campaigns, it's good to know that there are American immigrants doing well enough to attend.
Do I detect a note of captious humor here? Did this Haaretz writer just wink at us?

Another Haaretz story notes that the media was initially barred from covering the event; eventually, Romney relented and let reporters in.

There were also fundraisers in "private homes."

The Wall Street Journal claims that all of Romney's fundraisers took money only from American expatriates, and that Obama has been doing the same thing.

If you want to see the actual law which prohibits the raising of funds from foreigners, here it is: 2 U.S.C. § 441e : US Code - Section 441E: Contributions and donations by foreign nationals. The wording is about as clear as law gets.

Fundraising events outside of America's borders are increasingly common. The American Conservative writes:
When a U.S. citizen chooses to live in another country, it might be for a good reason like a job opportunity, but it also might be because he or she actually prefers the other country and regards the United States only as a place of birth that provides a useful passport. Deliberately seeking money for a U.S. political campaign among expats resident in foreign lands should therefore raise some serious concerns.
My question is simple. How can we know that all the money came from American citizens? A cynic may presume the worst if we have no way to verify what actually occurred.

As for the "Obama does it too" argument: Frankly, I'd be happy if both the Republican and Democratic candidates were knocked out of contention by fundraising scandals. A lot of conservatives would also enjoy that spectacle.
They're not even pretending to follow the law anymore.

What with the print and broadcast news media taking over where ITAR-TASS left off and the stupidity of republican and Obama voters why should they?
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