Foreign money in American politics. The phrase suggests secret payments, maybe briefcases stuffed with cash, or dinners of fine food and oblique conversation. Or spam. “Mr. Speaker, members of Parliament are being bombarded with electronic communications from Team Trump, on behalf of somebody called Donald Trump.” Sir Roger Gale, MP, was among the hundreds of legislators, from the United Kingdom to Iceland to Australia, whose inboxes had received unwanted fundraising emails from the Trump campaign. Gale continued: “Mr. Speaker, I’m all in favor of free speech, but I don’t see why colleagues on either side of the house should be subjected to intemperate spam.” He asked if the House of Commons IT staff could please make it stop. Speaker John Bercow sympathized, saying he didn’t consider it acceptable for members to be getting “emails of which the content is offensive.”
Inevitably, lawyers mobilized. The email service provider cut off Trump’s email consultant, who had supplied the list. And watchdog groups filed complaints at the Federal Election Commission.
Under federal law, it’s illegal for candidates to solicit or accept contributions from non-citizens. The only exception is for green-card holders. But that bright-line definition of what’s legal is clouded by changes in the law, in particular the 2010 Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United.
It’s a far cry from from 20 years ago, when allegations of foreign money shook President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign. The Democratic National Committee had been aggressively raising money for “issue ads” against Republican nominee Bob Dole. The Clintons even had donors and prospective donors to the White House, for coffee or for overnight stays in the Lincoln Bedroom.
Full Article: Citizens United Muddles What Is Legal In Trump’s Foreign Money Case : NPR.