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Politico: Al Franken seeks FEC probe of foreign cash

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has called on the Federal Election Commission to probe allegations that foreign companies are helping to finance U.S. Chamber of Commerce efforts to sway the midterm elections in its favor – even as the chamber continues to insist no foreign money is used for its political activities.

“I am profoundly concerned by recent reports that foreign corporations are indirectly spending significant sums to influence American elections through third-party groups,” Franken wrote in a Tuesday letter to FEC Chairman Matthew S. Petersen. “I am writing to ask that you investigate these claims, enforce existing laws and regulations prohibiting foreign spending in American elections, and strengthen those very laws through new regulations and policy guidance.”

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has called on the Federal Election Commission to probe allegations that foreign companies are helping to finance U.S. Chamber of Commerce efforts to sway the midterm elections in its favor – even as the chamber continues to insist no foreign money is used for its political activities.

“I am profoundly concerned by recent reports that foreign corporations are indirectly spending significant sums to influence American elections through third-party groups,” Franken wrote in a Tuesday letter to FEC Chairman Matthew S. Petersen. “I am writing to ask that you investigate these claims, enforce existing laws and regulations prohibiting foreign spending in American elections, and strengthen those very laws through new regulations and policy guidance.”

His letter was prompted by a report by the liberal blog Think Progress alleging that money raised from foreign corporations is “commingled” with other funds in an account used to run an “unprecedented attack campaign” against Democrats like Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, Pennsylvania Senate hopeful Joe Sestak and Rep. Tom Perriello of Virginia.

Think Progress found that the chamber ramped up fundraising efforts abroad, opening foreign chapters called “AmChams” to solicit money from foreign corporations.

Federal laws bar foreign nationals and foreign corporations from directly or indirectly contributing to any federal, state or local campaign in the U.S. While Franken acknowledged that the practice of commingling was not illegal, he pointed out that an entity must be able to prove that no foreign funds were used for political purposes.

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