- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When President Obama speaks about campaign contributions, it’s hard to know which is worse: his hypocrisy or his mendacity.

Let’s start with the latter. In his weekly radio address on Saturday, the president went on about the supposed effects of the Supreme Court’s January decision in the Citizens United case, which loosened restrictions on certain types of corporate political activity. Mr. Obama warned of a “corporate takeover of our democracy.” With plenty of melodrama, he complained about “a flood of attack ads run by shadowy groups.” He even claimed, “You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation.”

Mr. Obama surely knows his talking points are nonsense. His claim about foreign contributions repeatedly has been proved false. The Supreme Court specifically wrote it was not addressing (or, therefore, overturning) the law’s current ban on contributions from foreign nationals.

“Federal law bans all foreign nationals from contributing either directly or indirectly to any candidate or political party ‘in connection with a Federal, State, or local election.’ It also bans all foreign nationals from making ‘an expenditure, independent expenditure or disbursement for an electioneering communication,’ ” explained the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky in February after the Citizens United decision. “This ban includes foreign corporations, since the term ‘foreign nationals’ is defined to include individuals, foreign governments, foreign political parties and corporations ‘organized under the laws or having [their] principal place of business in a foreign country.’ “

Then there’s Mr. Obama’s hypocrisy. Even though he said in his radio address that “we’re going to continue to fight for reform and transparency,” his 2008 campaign was notorious for rejecting reform, eschewing transparency and purportedly taking money from foreign sources. Whereas John McCain’s presidential campaign listed all contributors, the Obama campaign did not release the names of contributors of under $200 at a time. (Many of those contributors, under different methods, contributed well in excess of $200 in toto). The McCain campaign used an address verification system to pre-screen online donations to catch illegalities; the Obama campaign refused.

The Obama campaign was caught accepting untraceable donations via prepaid credit cards, with the donations listed under names such as Good Will (employer and profession listed as “Loving” and “You”), Doodad Pro, Saddam Hussein, Della Ware, Idiot Savant and even “Hbkjb jkbkj,” as well as from foreign locales ranging from Argentina to Zacatecas. The campaign claimed it caught and returned these contributions after the fact, but in many cases this could not be verified.

Despite anti-business propaganda from the White House, U.S. corporate contributions to our nation’s political life are important because they give a policy voice to those who generate economic growth and create jobs. The rules on campaign finance are fine. What’s wrong with the system is the administration running it.

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