Washington Babylon — June 29, 2010, 9:11 am

Russian Spies and Campaign Finance

A reader, who asked to remain anonymous, sends along the following (slightly edited) email:

There are many reasons to move to public financing of elections, the chief one of which is that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that our current system for electing public officials is fundamentally corrupt. Now we have another compelling reason to do away with private financing of election campaigns: America’s enemies have discovered that fastest and easiest way to gain access to American policymakers is to get involved in political fundraising.

According to the criminal complaint against one of the alleged Russian spies arrested over the weekend:

Cynthia Murphy last year was assigned the account of a New York-based financier described as a fundraiser “for a major political party” who is “a personal friend” of a Cabinet member’s. “Try to build up little by little relations with him moving beyond just (work) framework,” said an intercepted communication from “Moscow Center.”

How easy is it to get close to an American politician by becoming a fundraiser? Really, really easy. Just look at the recent ranks of those who sought to bolster their shady business schemes by decorating the walls of their offices with pictures of themselves with American politicians – pictures taken at fundraising events: Norman Hsu, Scott Rothstein, Hassan Nemazee. The list goes on and on.

You don’t even have to run a Ponzi scheme to become a major political donor. The Navy Veterans Association set up a PAC, NAVPAC, ran it for eight years, gave away well over $100,000 in campaign contributions and never disclosed the identity of a single donor to the PAC. The PAC claimed that all the money it raised came from donors that gave less than $200 a year and therefore their identities did not need to be disclosed. Didn’t the lack of donor information make the FEC suspicious? The fact that the Navy Veterans Association was a massive fraud was discovered by two reporters at the St. Petersburg Times.

It would be extremely easy for a foreign intelligence service to infiltrate and compromise an American political party and gain access to America’s secrets by gaining inside access to American politicians.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2014

Gateway to Freedom

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Guns and Poses

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Christmas in Prison

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Poison Apples

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Growing Up

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Beeper World·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The beeper, for a certain kind of Miami teenager in the Nineties, was an essential evolutionary adaptation.”
Photograph by Curran Hatleberg
Article
Hammer Island·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The place could have sprung from someone’s jealous dream about white people.”
Photograph by Emily Stein
Article
Growing Up·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The best coming-of-age stories have a hole in the middle. They pretend to be about knowledge, but they are usually about grasping, long after it could be of any use, one’s irretrievable ignorance.”
Photograph by Ben Pier
Article
Guns and Poses·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“‘It’s open shopping,’ he said. ‘A warehouse. The whole of Libya.’”
Map by Mike Reagan
Article
Christmas in Prison·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Just so you motherfuckers know, I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, eating a good meal, and you’ll all be here, right where you belong.”
Photographer unknown. Artwork courtesy Alyse Emdur

Amount that President Obama has added to America’s “brand value” according to the Nation Brands Index:

$2,100,000,000,000

A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.

A Utah woman named Cameo Crispi pleaded guilty to having drunkenly attempted to burn down her ex-boyfriend’s house by igniting bacon on his kitchen stove.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today