Fact Check: Is Foreign Money Behind U.S. Chamber of Commerce Ads?

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White House 'Grasping at Straws'?

The Obama administration has decried the lack of constraints on campaign spending by third-party groups this campaign season after the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

While individual campaign contributors have limits on how much they can contribute and have to disclose any donation larger than $200, corporations now have no such limits. Some third party groups also don't have to disclose their sources of funding for political activities.

"The Chamber is throwing tons of money at these races and they haven't done that before and you can't disaggregate it," said Dartmouth College political scientist Ronald Shaiko, who's an expert in third party political groups.

"But the Chamber appears to be meeting the letter of the law in what they're doing. Plus, they've got plenty of money and they really don't need to be bringing in foreign money to be doing what they're doing," he said.

Shaiko also points out that foreign corporations and interest groups, with the exception of foreign governments, are not required to disclose their members or donors or register with the State Department in order to lobby U.S. lawmakers on matters of policy.

"For over a decade now we've had the door open to foreign influence in the political process, policy process," Shaiko said. "If we're equating political influence via lobbying with political influence via elections, I wouldn't want to draw the distinction."

So why is the Obama administration making these claims?

"Any interest group can write a $10 million check to try to defeat a candidate and no one will ever know exactly what their involvement was," said Axelrod.

By some accounts, the Chamber is planning on spending more than $75 million to help Republican candidates it perceives as business friendly -- the second biggest spender this election cycle only to the Republican National Committee.

All these rules are equally applicable to many groups on the left -- but they are not spending money like their conservative counterparts this year.

"This isn't going to help the White House win votes by doing this," said Shaiko. "They're grasping at straws."

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