Canadians sue for right to donate to US campaigns

Politico has an interesting story today about a group of Canadians who are challenging a ban on foreigners making contributions to US political campaigns. (Perhaps such a suit was inevitable. During the 2008 presidential race, one would run into Canadians at many rallies and events — usually on the Obama side.)

…The FEC’s lawyers, for instance, predicted in a filing defending the contribution ban, that its reversal “could open the door to millions — or even billions — of dollars of campaign advocacy by foreign corporations,” as well as “attack ads against American candidates” financed by “an individual paid by a foreign government to conduct espionage on the United States and harm American interests.”

And the White House-allied ThinkProgress blog ominously suggested that liberal bogeymen such as Koch Industries and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may be secretly funding the suit to further deregulate campaign rules and pave the way for foreign corporations to try to buy U.S. elections.

Those claims are “ludicrous,” said Yaakov Roth, one of the two young lawyers at the elite firm of Jones Day trying the case on a pro-bono basis. Roth – a Canadian who graduated from Harvard Law School and clerked for conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, first became interested in the foreign contribution ban when he learned it barred him from making political donations. He contends it stems partly “from hostility and suspicion about the views of aliens. And that’s directly contrary to what the First Amendment is about.”

Roth and Warren Postman – an American who graduated from Harvard Law with Roth and clerked at the same time for then-Justice David Souter, a liberal – brought the lawsuit on behalf of two young foreigners living, working and paying taxes in New York City as legally admitted temporary residents – Benjamin Bluman, a Canadian lawyer who went to law school with Roth and Postman, and Asenath Steiman, a doctor who is a dual Canadian-Israeli citizen doing her medical residency in New York.

According to their lawsuit, Bluman supports same-sex marriage, net neutrality and environmental protection, and would like to contribute $100 a piece to the campaigns of Democrats he believes will advance those positions, including Obama and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.). And Steiman is a free-market conservative and opponent of Obama’s healthcare overhaul who wants to contribute $100 each to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Club for Growth and “her preferred candidate for the Republican (presidential) nomination.”

The full article is here: Lawsuit revives fear of foreign cash [Politico]

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