If Bloomberg can buy the Presidency, why not Europe...?
February 1, 2008 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Is there anything to stop foreign nations donating money to the campaign of a US presidential candidate?

So I'm thinking principally of John Mccain, the EU, and climate change.

The EU has got all it's fingers crossed that in 2009 there'll be someone in the White House who will get pro-active on limiting carbon emissions. As the only republican candidate with a decent policy on climate change (I think this is true), it would surely be in the best interests of Europe to donate to his campaign to secure him the Republican ticket, and thus completely avoid the possibility of getting another Republican who won't play ball (presuming that all the democrats would be acceptable). In terms of the EU budget the amount of money it would take to make a serious difference to McCain's campaign would be peanuts, but would have massive effect. Why don't they do it?

Now this is just a hypothetical that occurred to me as a case where such an injection of cash could have a major impact, but has anything like this ever been done? Would it be legal in the US? And is this fairly common practice elsewhere in the world? (I'm thinking of the US donating money to the campaigns of pro-western candidates in ex-soviet republics)

posted by greytape to Law & Government (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Foreign Nationals are prohibited from donating or otherwise contributing to candidates.
posted by Oktober at 7:43 AM on February 1, 2008

..Which doesn't mean you can't, as a foreigner, give money in such a way as to influence the result. For example: money donated to NAACP get-out-the-vote efforts is highly likely to help the Democratic nominee (and pre-nomination it's likely to help the Obama campaign). Maybe someone like these people are an equivalent for the McCain campaign?
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:53 AM on February 1, 2008

McCain's policy isn't actually that great, from what I hear.
posted by delmoi at 8:05 AM on February 1, 2008

Well, one can always do a letter writing campaign, but there's no guarantee it will work the way you hope it will. If one were to inject cash into a similar effort, one can only imagine that it will work out somewhat worse, especially with people who vote in Republican primaries.
posted by chengjih at 9:06 AM on February 1, 2008

it's illegal.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:04 AM on February 1, 2008

The US certainly has done and continues to do this in other countries. They may or may not donate directly to a specific political party, but they certainly spend money to influence elections (not to mention backing coups and other nasty business).

Your assumption that any Democrat would be acceptable to the EU is probably wrong as well. Better, yes, but still unacceptable.
posted by ssg at 11:09 AM on February 1, 2008

Foreign Nationals are prohibited from donating or otherwise contributing DIRECTLY to candidates.

You might be interested in this episode [mp3] of Dan Carlin's Common Sense Podcast.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:23 AM on February 1, 2008

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