6.4.5.4 Political Payments from Foreign Countries

Governments, organisations and wealthy individuals anywhere in the world can use money to influence what happens elsewhere; it can be classified as a political use of economic power (3.3.7.2).  They can offer funding with varying degrees of transparency: US aid to Israel is overt, but Russia influence has been more secretive:

  • As reported in a Guardian article, Tech giants face Congress as showdown over Russia election meddling looms, Facebook, Twitter and Google were all used as covert channels to influence the 2016 US Presidential election: “All three companies have admitted that Russian entities bought ads on their sites in an effort to skew the vote.”
  • Leonid Bershidsky’s article, Russia’s Big Bet on the French Far Right, described Russian connections to a loan made to France’s far-right Front National party led by Marine le Pen. The loan cannot be directly traced to Russia’s President Putin but, as the article noted: “If Le Pen breaks through, Putin will have a formidable fifth column inside the EU.”

Democracies are unwise to allow unlimited political campaign contributions.  The money can come from anywhere, including hostile foreign governments.

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