What Foreign Companies Give the Most Money to PACs?

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When it comes to election spending, political action committees (PACs) and super PACs contribute so heavily to campaigns that they have become more influential than the voters and candidates themselves.

PACs are legally distinct from super PACs, and each has its own set of rules. Generally, only Americans are permitted to contribute to federal politics, while funds from foreign nationals are prohibited to finance a U.S. election campaign. However, that doesn’t mean money from foreign companies isn’t finding its way to PACs run in the interest of both political parties.

Per the Federal Election Commission (FEC), PACs are types of political action committee organized to advocate for or against a particular political candidate to influence an election. They are run by corporations, trade or labor union associations and membership organizations and are allowed to solicit contributions from individuals associated with these organizations (separate segregated funds [SSF] PACs) or from the general public (nonconnected committee PACs) based on set monetary limits.

Super PACs, on the other hand, are independent “expenditure-only” committees that can raise unlimited funds from corporations, unions and individuals but are prohibited from receiving contributions from “foreign nationals, federal contractors, national banks or federally chartered corporations,” per the FEC.

According to the U.S. political money tracker OpenSecrets, U.S. divisions of foreign companies (i.e.: Toyota Motor North America in Japan, Anheuser-Busch in Belgium) are allowed to set up PACs to collect contributions from their American employees.

During the current 2021-2022 electoral cycle, foreign-connected PACs have raised a total of $15,010,168 — $7,345,670 for pro-Democrat super PACs and $7,659,998 favoring Republican committees. While many companies raise funds with Democratic or Republican interests, many contribute large amounts to both.

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OpenSecrets lists 212 American-affiliated, foreign-based companies that have contributed to PACs in 2021-2022. Here are the top 10, including their PAC name, country of origin/parent company and total contributed (also by political party).

PAC Name (Affiliate)Country of Origin/Parent CompanyTotalDemocratsRepublicans
UBS AmericasSwitzerland/USB AG$984,000$504,000$480,000
Toyota Motor North AmericaJapan/Toyota Motor Corp$824,497$416,997$407,500
BAE Systems (BAE Systems)UK/BAE Systems$641,000$282,500$358,500
CRH Americas (CRH PLC)Ireland/CRH PLC$400,100$154,000$246,100
Fresenius Medical Care North AmericaGermany/Fresenius Medical Care$384,500$169,000$215,500
BASF CorpGermany/BASF SE$377,500$204,000$173,500
Anheuser-Busch (Anheuser-Busch InBev)Belgium/ Anheuser-Busch InBev$376,500$183,000$193,500
TransAmericaNetherlands/Aegon NV$312,000$167,500$144,500
Samsung Electronics AmericaSouth Korea/Samsung Group$278,000$156,500$121,500
Source: OpenSecrets.org

A good part of this $15 million total comes from continents where the U.S. has company subsidiaries and common interests. $10,962,622 comes from Europe, followed by Asia ($2,368,796) and the rest of North America ($1,379,050).

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