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The US Chamber of Commerce has gotten a lot of well deserved criticism for its spending of millions of dollars to try to buy elections for Republican candidates. Much of that criticism has focused on the fact that the Chamber gets a lot of money from foreign corporations. Their refusal to disclose where the money for their ad blitzes really come from have aroused perfectly reasonable suspicions that they are being secretive because they are using foreign money.

However, this line of criticism misses out a crucial point. Many "US Corporations" are under foreign control. From Source Watch:

According to the website Economy in Crisis, "Foreign ownership refers to ownership of assets of a particular industry by foreign controlled domestic U.S. Corporations (FDC) 50% or more owned by a foreign entity."
By that definition, the percentage of foreign ownership as of 2002 by industrial sector was as follows:
Sound recording industries - 97%
Commodity contracts dealing and brokerage - 79%
Motion picture and sound recording industries - 75%
Metal ore mining - 65%
Motion picture and video industries - 64%
Wineries and distilleries - 64%
Database, directory, and other publishers - 63%
Book publishers - 63%
Cement, concrete, lime, and gypsum product - 62%
Engine, turbine and power transmission equipment - 57%
Rubber product - 53%
Nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing - 53%
Plastics and rubber products manufacturing - 52%
Plastics product - 51%
Other insurance related activities - 51%
Boiler, tank, and shipping container - 50%
Glass and glass product - 48%
Coal mining - 48%
Sugar and confectionery product - 48%
Nonmetallic mineral mining and quarrying - 47%
Advertising and related services - 41%
Pharmaceutical and medicine - 40%
Clay, refractory, and other nonmetallic mineral products - 40%
Securities brokerage - 38%
Other general purpose machinery - 37%
Audio and video equipment mfg and reproducing magnetic and optical media -
Support activities for mining - 36%
Soap, cleaning compound, and toilet preparation - 32%
Chemical manufacturing - 30%
Industrial machinery - 30%
Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and
related activities - 30%
Other food - 29%
Motor vehicles and parts - 29%
Machinery manufacturing - 28%
Other electrical equipment and component - 28%
Securities and commodity exchanges and other financial investment
activities - 27%
Architectural, engineering, and related services - 26%
Credit card issuing and other consumer credit - 26%
Petroleum refineries (including integrated) - 25%
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments - 25%
Petroleum and coal products manufacturing - 25%
Transportation equipment manufacturing - 25%
Commercial and service industry machinery - 25%
Basic chemical - 24%
Investment banking and securities dealing - 24%
Semiconductor and other electronic component - 23%
Paint, coating, and adhesive - 22%
Printing and related support activities - 21%
Chemical product and preparation - 20%
Iron, steel mills, and steel products - 20%
Agriculture, construction, and mining machinery - 20%
Publishing industries - 20%
Medical equipment and supplies - 20%

This is just the beginning. These numbers leave out the corporations who have major foreign shareholders, but who have a majority of US ownership, at least for now. Those corporations are under heavy foreign influence as you might expect.

We are used to thinking of foreign owners of US assets as private individuals and corporations. However, a lot of shares of US stocks are owned by foreign governments through their Sovereign Wealth Funds. According to a 2009 publication by Joel Slawotsky in the Georgetown Journal of International Law:
Sovereign wealth funds ("SWFs") are the new masters of the global financial order. Owned by foreign governments (1) and armed with an estimated U.S. $3 trillion in assets, (2) SWF financial power already dwarfs that of hedge funds. (3) SWFs are generally funded by foreign exchange assets and invested internationally. While SWFs have existed for decades, SWFs from oil exporting nations and Asian exporters have accumulated a staggering amount of assets due to high oil prices, globalization, and large global imbalances. (4) Accordingly, the number of SWFs and their available funds are rising rapidly, and their significance in global capital markets is becoming more prominent. (5) Expected growth in the near term is remarkable:

SWFs are major shareholders in member corporations of the US Chamber of Commerce, along with a lot of other foreign shareholders. It has gotten to the point to where one should question whether or not it is honest to refer to it as the "US Chamber of Commerce" anymore. Wikipedia has a list of countries with SWFs, many of which are countries unfriendly to the US such as China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Libya.

The infamous Citizens United ruling claimed that it limited political meddling by corporations to US Corporations, but "US Corporations" is a term that has lost most of its meaning. In this context, it is physically impossible to have corporations or their trade associations involved in political campaigns without causing enormous foreign influence over our elections.

Illustration: HikingArtist.com




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