Democrats Took $1M from Foreign-Affiliated PACs, Report Shows

CBS/ AP

In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, Democrats have assailed Republicans for taking money from outside interest groups they allege are funded by secret, foreign donors. However, the Democratic Party is taking its own large share of financing from groups backed by foreign companies, according to a new analysis.

Democrats this election cycle have received about $1.02 million from political action committees affiliated with foreign companies, according to The Hill and the Center for Responsive Politics. The contributions come from U.S. employees of subsidiaries of foreign companies, such as pharmaceutical manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline and aerospace contractor BAE Systems. The donations do not violate any campaign finance rules.

"This is not foreign money per-se, but these PACs are certainly populated by people who work for foreign companies," Dave Levinthal of the Center for Responsive Politics told the Hill.

These donations, however, are made public through filings with the Federal Election Commission. Democrats, by contrast have accused organizations like the Karl Rove-affiliated American Crossroads and the business lobbying group the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of "taking secret foreign money to influence our elections."

The Democrats' charges were based on a report from a liberal blog, which said that the Chamber solicits foreign funding for its general account, which it uses to fund campaign advertising. Outside groups like the Chamber have financed campaign advertisements benefiting Republicans over Democrats by a margin of almost nine-to-one in recent weeks. The Chamber has vehemently denied, however, that any of its financing for campaign ads comes from foreign entities.

Democrats have tried to emphasize that, while they have no proof that these groups are using foreign money for their political activities, the point is that their political donors are kept secret.

"The overarching issue here is that we don't know where these entities are raising money," Doug Thornell, a spokesman for Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told the Hill. "It could be money from foreign corporation, big oil or companies that want to outsource U.S. jobs."

Nevertheless, American Crossroads hit back at Democrats for the apparent hypocrisy of their ads accusing conservative of taking foreign money.

"Barack Obama criticized the Supreme Court and his adversaries over the bogus charge of foreign money tainting elections - while leaders in his own party had taken more than a million dollars from the foreign cookie jar," Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for American Crossroads, told the Hill.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Campaign 2010


Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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