It’s illegal for foreign nationals to donate money toward elections. It is not, concluded the FEC, illegal to dump money into ballot measures (or, by extension, congressional redistricting itself?) because ballot measures are not technically “elections.”
Sure, fine, we’ll go with that. What it means in the specific case being ruled on is that Canadian subsidiary Sandfire Resources, an offshoot of an Australian mining giant, has the go-ahead to fund committees to oppose a Montana ballot measure tightening water pollution rules regulating the mining industry. In the general case, however, it means any foreign company can fund whatever state ballot measures they like. The Post reports that only seven states currently make that illegal; everywhere else, for now, is fair game.
So, for example, a Russian state-owned oil giant might start funding ballot measures to shut down American oil companies—not because of climate concerns, heavens no! But to prop up the price of the Russian version. (Just kidding: I’m fairly certain that the 5th Circuit has ruled that opposing an oil company is a death penalty crime.)
A foreign car manufacturer might, say, spend several truckloads of money on a ballot measure allowing a state to bust whatever unions might be causing special inconvenience when the time comes to renew labor contracts. (Just kidding: Car manufacturers don’t need to spend money to bust unions; all they have to do is ask and state legislatures will rewrite laws however they need to be rewritten.)
Any world power with a bit of spare change could, for that matter, fund pro-gun, pro-militia ballot measures in all fifty states just to screw with our national security a bit more than the homegrown versions have managed. There’s a political party who’d happily help, and a whole movement of people who would take time out from their pro-revolution and anti-vaxxer podcasts to jump on that bandwagon.
The good news is that this is near-instantaneously fixable. All that needs to happen is that Congress needs to clarify existing laws to bar foreign cash from influencing any ballot measure, rather than just races for elected office. Surely, we cough, that would be a bipartisan 10-minute effort that could be done by Christmas. Similarly, each state could close the loophole itself.
It’s not that we have anything against Australian mining companies, mind you. It’s just a bit problematic if we’re going to have not just American corporations and the American ultra-wealthy but every last billionaire and for-profit company on the planet all fighting to rewrite our laws through the state ballot initiative process that’s already been largely reduced to another propaganda playground. The opportunities for mischief here are near-endless—or would be, if the “end” wasn’t the natural endpoint of the world’s richest septuagenarians turning the world’s atmosphere positively Venusian in their bid to squeeze ten more bucks out of the end of the fossil fuel era.
Seriously, could we just fix this one without drama? Looking at you, McConnell. Looking at you, Manchin.
Source by www.dailykos.com