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Yarmuth Introduces Legislation to Reject Influence of Hugo Chavez and Saudi Arabian Oil Companies in American Elections

 

( Washington, DC ) Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) introduced a resolution to express the House of Representatives’ objection to the Supreme Court’s recent decision to allow foreign companies and big Wall Street banks unlimited influence in American elections.

 

Congressman Yarmuth’s resolution is a first step of Congress’ legislative response to the Court’s 5 to 4 decision in Citizens United v. FEC.   Overturning nearly a century of judicial precedent, the Court declared private companies, including subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies controlled by governments unfriendly to the United States , shall be given free rein to spend millions of dollars to influence American elections.

 

“Under this fundamentally flawed decision, giant foreign-owned corporations like Citgo, which is wholly-owned by the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez, and bailed-out Wall Street executives at Goldman Sachs can use their deep pockets to influence elections to fit their agendas,” said Congressman Yarmuth.    “At a time when so much special interest money is already flowing through our political system, the Supreme Court has swung open the floodgates so that Wall Street banks, drug companies, and unfriendly foreign governments can now drown out the voices of all American citizens.”

 

For example , Exxon Mobile could now spend $8 million in each Congressional race in the country at a cost of just ten percent of its 2008 profits, essentially hand-picking the winning candidate for every single House and Senate race in the country. Additionally, CEOs from Wall Street banks supported by taxpayer bailouts can use those funds to advocate for or against particular candidates.

 

Under the decision, corporations are now allowed to use funds from their general treasuries for advertising explicitly calling for the election or defeat of federal candidates.   This allows corporations owned or controlled by foreign governments to have unlimited influence in American elections   -- including Citgo, owned and operated by the government of Venezuela; Saudi Aramco, owned by the government of Saudi Arabia; and China State Construction Engineering Corporation, owned by the Chinese government.

 

Congressman Yarmuth’s resolution states that:

·          Multinational corporations should not have a greater voice in our democratic process than U.S. citizens;

·          The House of Representatives disapproves of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which allows the interests of corporations – both foreign and domestic – to supersede those of U.S. citizens; and

·          Congress should act quickly to limit the impact of this decision.

 

Congressman Yarmuth has been invited to participate in a new Congressional Task Force charged with drafting legislation to minimize the impact of special interests on federal elections. The task force, headed by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), was formed in response to the Court’s recent decision.    Legislation establishing more restrictions on corporate spending is expected to be introduced in the coming days, including new transparency and disclosure requirements and outright bans on expenditures by foreign-owned companies, federal contractors, and companies that received taxpayer bailouts.

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