Democrats blame Indian money in US polls

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New Delhi: It may come as news to Avasarala Techno-logies of Bengaluru or Jagran Prakashan of Kanpur, or even the Indian government, that they are influencing the US mid-term elections of November 2 by funding Republican candidates.

Yet, this unlikely scenario has been one of the loudest campaign complaints of the Democratic Party in recent weeks, as it prepared for what election observers predicted would be major losses in both the US Senate and the House of Representatives.

Democrats have repeatedly attacked the US Chamber of Commerce for its alleged ties to foreign donors.

On the campaign trail, US President Barack Obama himself has referred to the possibility that foreign companies could be funding Repub-lican candidates indirectly, through their donations to the Chamber.

US law prohibits soliciting or accepting donations from foreign nationals or entities for election activity.

The Chamber is one of several groups on both sides of the political spectrum that help election campaigns at the federal and state level from outside, spending money on advertisements and other activities in support of their preferred candidates.

While there are some instances of local chapters of the Chamber supporting Democrats, the group mostly supports Republicans, who are perceived as being more pro-business.

Groups like the Chamber, which are called Section 501(c)(6) organizations, are not required to disclose their donors.

The issue of foreign funding was first raised by ThinkProgress, a liberal, pro-Democratic blog.

In October, the website reported that the Chamber, which was expected to spend $75 million, mainly on behalf of Republican candidates, in this year’s elections, ‘funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding’.

It went on to state that ‘dozens of Indian businesses, including some of India’s largest corporations like the State Bank of India (state-run) and ICICI Bank, are members of the US Chamber of Commerce through the USIBC’ or the US-India Business Council.

The report said the USIBC generated ‘well over $200,000 a year in dues for the US Chamber of Commerce’, and referred to the USIBC’s website where ‘many of the group’s lobbying goals advocate changing American policy to help businesses in India’.

The report alleged that foreign corporations were seeking to defeat Democrats this November, partly because of Democratic candidates’ opposition to outsourcing.

ThinkProgress followed up with another post, listing 83 foreign companies that ‘actively donate to the Chamber’s 501(c) (6)’, besides big multinational firms like BP, Shell Oil and Siemens.

Of these 83, as many as 55 were Indian firms.

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