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When it comes to election spending, political action committees (PACs) and super PACs contribute so heavily to campaigns that they have become more influential than the voters and candidates themselves.
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PACs are legally separate from super PACs, and each has its own set of rules. Generally, only Americans are allowed to contribute to federal politics, while funds from foreign nationals are prohibited to finance a US election campaign. However, this does not mean that money from foreign companies does not end up in PACs managed in the interests of both political parties.
According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), PACs are types of political action committees organized to defend or against a particular political candidate in order to influence an election. They are managed by corporations, professional or labor associations and membership organizations and are authorized to solicit contributions from persons associated with these organizations (segregated funds [SSF] PACs) or the general public (PACs of unconnected committees) based on defined monetary limits.
Super PACs, on the other hand, are independent “expenses-only” committees that can raise unlimited funds from businesses, unions, and individuals, but are prohibited from receiving contributions from “foreign nationals.” , federal contractors, national banks, or federally chartered corporations,” by the FEC.
According to US political money tracker OpenSecrets, US divisions of foreign companies (i.e. Toyota Motor North America in Japan, Anheuser-Busch in Belgium) are allowed to create PACs to collect contributions from their American employees.
In the current 2021-22 election cycle, overseas-connected PACs have raised a total of $15,010,168 — $7,345,670 for pro-Democratic super PACs and $7,659,998 for Republican committees. While many companies raise funds with Democratic or Republican interests, many contribute large amounts to both.
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OpenSecrets lists 212 foreign affiliates in the United States that contributed to PACs in 2021-2022. Here are the top 10, including their PAC name, country of origin/parent company, and total contributions (also by political party).
|Name of PAC (affiliate)||Country of origin/Parent company||Total||Democrats||Republicans|
|UBS Americas||Switzerland/USB SA||$984,000||$504,000||$480,000|
|Toyota Motor North America||Japan/Toyota Motor Corp.||$824,497||$416,997||$407,500|
|BAE Systems (BAE Systems)||UK/BAE Systems||$641,000||$282,500||$358,500|
|CRH Americas (CRH PLC)||Ireland/CRH PLC||400 $100||$154,000||$246,100|
|Fresenius Medical Care North America||Germany/Fresenius Medical Care||$384,500||$169,000||$215,500|
|BASF Corp.||Germany/BASF SE||$377,500||$204,000||$173,500|
|Anheuser-Busch (Anheuser-Busch InBev)||Belgium/ Anheuser-Busch InBev||$376,500||$183,000||$193,500|
|Samsung Electronics America||South Korea/Samsung Group||$278,000||$156,500||$121,500|
Much of that $15 million total comes from continents where the United States has subsidiaries and common interests. $10,962,622 came from Europe, followed by Asia ($2,368,796) and the rest of North America ($1,379,050).
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