US election law, foreign donations...

Hi,

I’m an Irish citizen, living in Ireland.

Suppose I had €30,000 lying around doing nothing,and decided a good use of it would be to help make George W. Bush a lame-duck President by electing a Democratic congress.

Are US election candidates allowed to accept my money, or is there some law forbidding it ? ( I have a vague memory there is, but Google searches about US election law just produces myriads of reports about violations of it).

So can I just feed this money to Democratic candidates, or do I have to send it to my sister (living in Portland,Oregon,US citizen for 20 years), for her to do it?

Regards,
William

See Title 2 of the US code, Chapter 14, 441e. It’s illegal for someone who’s not a citizen of the US or a permanent resident to donate to a candidate or political party.

See http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode02/usc_sec_02_00000441---e000-.html

This I do not understand. The US is legislating against a foreign national in a foreign country? I can understand it applying to foreign nationals inside the U.S… But really, shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t it be illegal for a candidate to accept funds from a foreign national?

I don’t see how the law is enforceable. Do candidates have to report all the donations they accept and how they spend them?

Candidates are required to file quarterly fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission, including expenditures.

Its similarly illegal for US Citizens to launder contributions for foreign nationals.

It is. In the same link above, to 2 U.S.C. § 441e, it says:

So it is illegal for a foreigner to donate to a U.S. campaign, and illegal for a U.S. campaign to accept a donation from a foreigner.

Yes. What would most likely happen is if a foreign citizen donated a small amount to a campaign and the campaign knows its foreign, they would return it. No harm no foul. If they could not locate the donor to return the check, they can donate the money to charity.

So if you live in England and want to donate and put a foreign address on the donation form, the campaign will return it. If you give a fake US address, it might slip through. But anything over $250 become public record and is available to anyone to research. That’s usually how that sort of thing gets caught.

If you call a buddy in the US and ask if you can borrow his address, it could slip through the cracks. But keep in mind that if he is caught, then your buddy is subject to prosecution.

Thanks for the info, people. It seems even sending it to my sister puts her in legal jeopardy.

Looks like the money is going to Bóthar, (http://www.bothar.org) which is probably a better use of it anyway.

Regards,
William