ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

American Opinion: The elections are over, but foreign election meddling isn't

From the editorial: Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., introduced a bill last year to prohibit campaign committees from accepting money from lobbyists registered with a foreign country. Considering that dark money represents the easiest and fastest way for Russia and other governments to buy politicians and wreak havoc, Congress should make closing that gap one of its top priorities.

Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin shows Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin his school lunch factory outside Saint Petersburg on Sept. 20, 2010.
Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin shows Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin his school lunch factory outside Saint Petersburg on Sept. 20, 2010. Prigozhin stated earlier this month that Russia has meddled and will continue to meddle in U.S. elections.
(Alexey Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
We are part of The Trust Project.

A top Russian oligarch and ally of Vladimir Putin openly stated that his country has engaged in U.S. election meddling and would continue doing so in future elections. That’s not exactly news, even if it’s the first such admission by someone so close to Putin. But the methods of meddling are what merit more congressional scrutiny because a gaping hole for exploitation remains in the U.S. election system: dark campaign money.

American Opinion
American Opinion
Tribune graphic / Forum News Service
More American Opinion:
The Justice Department should ask Cannon to recuse herself, and if she refuses, it should appeal for reassignment of the case.
From the editorial: The right to marry whom you love should not be subject to the whims of an out-of-step conservative court or be left to a patchwork of state regulations. Congress must make the Respect for Marriage Act the law of the land.
From American Opinion editorial: Enter the Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force, a nationwide effort that’s being made to investigate and take legal action against companies who bring foreign robocalls into the United States. The coalition includes attorneys general from all 50 states.
From the American Opinioin editorial: Late in 2021, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland formally created a process to replace derogatory names of geographic features across the nation. She declared the word “squaw” to be derogatory and ordered a federal panel — called the Board on Geographic Names — to move forward with procedures to remove that word from federal usage.

U.S. law forbids the acceptance of foreign campaign donations, but federal law effectively allows for foreign donations to flood in surreptitiously through political action committees and lobbyists linked to foreign governments. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United and other rulings opened the door to anonymous dark money campaign contributions with far more limited options for election officials to verify the source of donations.

The court has not only ruled that campaign funding is a form of free speech but also, in 2012, that anonymity in campaign funding is a fundamental freedom-of-association and free speech right.

A giant loophole now exists for foreign governments and special interests to funnel money to their favored candidates and political causes, often through lobbyists. And the Russians aren’t the only ones apparently working to exploit the system. The United Arab Emirates is under increased U.S. scrutiny for political meddling, The Washington Post reported recently. Saudi Arabia has a host of political concerns that the kingdom would like to influence in more direct ways than the traditional diplomatic options offer.

Putin’s apparent goal is not so much to influence as to destabilize and undermine American democracy. Dark money allows him to direct funds via lobbyists to the candidates most likely to do his bidding. No proof has surfaced directly connecting Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign to Russian donations, but the taint of Putin’s influence permeated almost everything Trump did before and after he took office.

ADVERTISEMENT

In October 2021, Lev Parnas, a Soviet-born former business associate of Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was convicted of currying influence with U.S. politicians through various dark-money routes. Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, nicknamed “Putin’s chef,” bluntly stated in a recent interview: “Gentlemen, we interfered, we interfere (now), and we will interfere.”

More Opinion:
The letter writer believe citizens should demand that our state and federal representatives and senators work on permitting the building of more coal, gas and nuclear power plants resulting in lower energy costs.
The letter writer urges caution about money solicitation requests.
From the commentary: More than anything else, Democrats’ current harmony reflects the fact that few party members now see themselves as facing such a dilemma (back home).
The letter writer believes educators should change history lessons.
From the editorial: The rules are the rules. It shouldn’t be too much to expect the country’s highest leaders to start following them.
Editorial cartoonist Kevin Siers draws on the continuing year of the gun in 2023.
The letter writer calls on the Biden administration to address Mexico's bio-tech corn ban.
From the commentary: Every day is a new embarrassment, not just for (George Santos) but for the Republicans in Congress.
From the commentary: It is time to recognize obesity in childhood and adolescence for the complex chronic disease that it is.
"Church worship now competes with everything from professional sports to kids activities to household chores. ... we can either have a frank conversation about what church can be, or we can continue to watch the pews empty in cherished houses of worship across the country."

Earlier this month, the Atlantic Council reported that Putin has an estimated $1 trillion in dark money hidden in accounts outside Russia to buy influence. The funds “pose a serious national security threat to the United States because this money can be exploited and steered by the Kremlin for espionage, terrorism, industrial espionage, bribery, political manipulation, disinformation, and many other nefarious purposes.”

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., introduced a bill last year to prohibit campaign committees from accepting money from lobbyists registered with a foreign country. Considering that dark money represents the easiest and fastest way for Russia and other governments to buy politicians and wreak havoc, Congress should make closing that gap one of its top priorities.

This American Opinion editorial is the view of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board. Send feedback to: opinion@wctrib.com.

©2022 STLtoday.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What To Read Next
From the editorial: The days of magnanimity and bipartisan compromise are over. Some people want war and seem determined to provoke it.
From the editorial: First, public debt cannot safely be allowed to keep rising at the projected rate. Second, purporting to solve this problem by threatening to default on the country’s obligations is nuts.
Why is it that women’s hygiene products are not offered for free in school bathrooms?
From the editorial: Although multiple New York GOP House members have urged Santos to resign, the party’s far-right House membership is pulling him into their fold. Should Americans be surprised?