“The long-simmering feud between Democrats and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has erupted into a full-scale war…

“‘Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign corporations,’ Obama said at a Thursday rally for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. ‘So groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections, and they won’t tell you where the money for their ads comes from.’

“R. Bruce Josten, the chamber’s executive vice president for government affairs, said in an interview Friday that the group ‘has never and will never’ use dues collected from overseas business councils, known as ‘AmChams,’ for U.S. political activities. He said the chamber is the victim of ‘a smear campaign’ orchestrated with the involvement of the White House.

“‘This is an outlandish act of desperation from people who are not able to run on their record,’ Josten said. ‘They have stooped to smear campaigns.'”

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“But a closer examination shows that there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents…

“Organizations from both ends of the political spectrum, from liberal ones like the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Sierra Club to conservative groups like the National Rifle Association, have international affiliations and get money from foreign entities while at the same time pushing political causes in the United States.

“In addition, more than 160 political action committees active in campaigning have been set up by corporations that are based overseas, including military contractors like B.A.E. Systems and pharmaceutical giants like GlaxoSmithKline, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research service…

“Richard L. Hasen, an election-law specialist at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said there were legitimate questions about whether foreign money could be making its way into campaigns, particularly because many groups are not required to disclose their donors. But he added, ‘I’ve seen no proof of the chamber funneling a penny of foreign money into U.S. elections.'”

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“Obama’s ‘foreign money’ claims are bogus. They’re also pretty rich, considering how his 2008 campaign handled foreign credit cards. From that National Journal story: ‘The lack of a computerized address-verification system would allow the Obama campaign’s computers to accept online donations from U.S. citizens above legal limits, and to accept donations from foreigners who are barred by law from contributing at all.’ Perhaps its time to remind people of that issue again. Oh, wait, I just did!

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