Senator John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee and co-author of the 2002 campaign finance law that bears his name, suggested in an interview that foreign money might be entering the campaign finance system.
In an interview on the PBS Newshour, McCain noted that casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who with his wife just gave $10 million to a super political action committee backing presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, may be using foreign profits to help fund U.S. campaigns. “Much of Mr. Adelson’s casino profits that go to him come from this casino in Macau,” McCain said. “Which says that, obviously, maybe in a roundabout way, foreign money is coming into an American campaign.”
McCain and his colleagues blocked action on legislation known as the Disclose Act, that would have imposed new restrictions to prevent foreign money from being spent on U.S. politics. The measure passed the House in 2010 though twice fell one vote short of coming up for consideration in the Senate when Republicans refused to allow the bill to reach the floor. Yet McCain also criticized the Citizens United decision that passed, 5-4, and opened the door to super-PACs and increased spending by nonprofit groups that do not have to reveal their donors.
As the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, McCain named Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito as models for his Supreme Court nominees. He now says these justices participated in the “most misguided, naive, uninformed, egregious decision of the United States Supreme Court I think in the 21st century.”
Allegations that Citizens United would open the door to foreign money are not new, though it previously have been the Democrats who made that charge. President Barack Obama, in his 2010 State of the Union address, said the decision could allow foreign money to influence elections. Obama returned to that theme during the 2010 campaign. “It could be the oil industry” funding campaign ads, Obama said during an October 2010 rally in Philadelphia. “It could be the insurance industry, it could even be foreign-owned corporations. You don’t know because they don’t have to disclose.”