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Relics of a Buddhist Temple

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How can we forget the ruckus raised by GOP media flaks about the famous Buddhist fundraiser and Al Gore’s possible involvement in receiving funds from the People’s Republic of China? From 1996 through 1999 we heard about this alleged infraction of campaign laws every time we turned on a television or opened a newspaper.

Without question, campaign financing laws need to be enforced and even strengthened so long as we continue with our policies of choosing candidates on the basis of how much money they can raise and how much advertising they are willing to buy, but one has to wonder how clean fundraising has been in the current election cycle. Are candidates receiving foreign contributions today and if they are, why are we not hearing about any scandals like those that followed Gore a decade a go?

A hint at some possible back-door contributions appeared in a Salon article by Andrew Leonard called How the World Works, which points out that many large corporations that we think of as American have truly been globalized. The article gives some examples of recent stock purchases:

Citigroup: $7.5 billion from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and $6.88 billion from Government Investment Corp. of Singapore.

Morgan Stanley: $5 billion from China Investment Corp.

Merrill-Lynch: $5 billion from Singapore's Temasek Holdings, $6.5 from Kuwait Investment Authority, $2 billion from Korean Investment Corp.

Bear Stearns: $1 billion from China Investment Corp.

UBS: $10 billion from the Government Investment Corp. of Singapore.

In light of these investments, one has to wonder whether any of these companies contributed significant campaign funds in the current presidential campaigns and whether these should be considered foreign funds.

An answer to this question can be gleaned from a nice website run by our government. Presumably the details will change from time to time, but a quick search shows that individuals working at Citigroup have made 499 contributions to various presidentail candidates, and a quick scan of the first page of these contributions shows twenty contributions of which ten are for $2300 and only three are for less than $500 (one of these three small contributions is a second contribution by the same person to Joe Biden, making a total of $2500).

Another quick search shows 590 contributions from employees of Morgan Stanley, 553 from Merrill Lynch (or from Merrill-Lynch), 243 from Bear Stearns and 434 contributions from UBS.

Clearly these are not the only large corporations that are now under significant ownership by foreign nationals and clearly these large corporations are funneling money into U.S. political campaigns. The question is how this is any less offensive than what Al Gore was accused of in the late 1990's?
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Attended college thanks to the generous state support of education in 1960's America. Earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Illinois followed by post doctoral research positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. (more...)

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