We often get lost in the is-ought problem.

To what degree would a presidential candidate be allowed to accept money from foreign corporations, and foreign governments?

Please include typical mechanisms they use to provide support, such as shadow-advocacy groups, and the like. I'm just curious to know what exactly would be illegal, especially with regard to the Trump fiasco. If this was a SuperPAC or the like and Putin gave by proxy of a corporation, would this even be against the law?

What is it precisely that went wrong? It's not the spirit -- but a technicality?

  • @grovkin I'm not convinced that it is. Your question seems more limited in scope asking about contributions aimed at trolling, whereas this one is broader including any time of foreign financial support.
    – JJJ
    Apr 25, 2019 at 23:48
  • @JJJ the title of my question is more colloquially stated. But the cases considered in the question cover this question as well. I even ended up quoting from the same FEC page, when answering my own question. Both questions seem to have the same general answer: anyone can do topic advocacy, agents must register under FARA if they lobby and only citizens can support political candidate advocacy. I think there are a few other questions floating around whose answer is really on the same FEC page.
    – grovkin
    Apr 25, 2019 at 23:56
  • @grovkin in that case it might help if you rephrase your own question first, then it should be fine to use it as a canonical question for closing dupes.
    – JJJ
    Apr 26, 2019 at 0:04
  • 1
    I don't see them as the same question. This one is specifically asking for "If this was a SuperPAC or the like and Putin gave by proxy of a corporation, would this even be against the law?" Apr 26, 2019 at 0:07

1 Answer 1


Officially, zero financial support.

From: http://www.fec.gov/ans/answers_general.shtml

Can non-US citizens contribute?

Foreign nationals are prohibited from making any contributions or expenditures in connection with any election in the U.S. Please note, however, that "green card" holders (i.e., individuals lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the U.S.) are not considered foreign nationals and, as a result, may contribute. For additional information, consult our "Foreign Nationals" brochure.

Unofficially, well, that's where 'dark money' can come into play.

  • But, it's not even dark money at that point right? I mean if I'm Saudi or Russian and I own a corporation can the corporation donate to a PAC? What if I give a candidate money, without strings? Is it still viewed as a campaign contribution? He pays the mortgage with my money, and uses his own to fund the campaign? May 18, 2017 at 16:19
  • @EvanCarroll if you give a politician money directly, that's a contribution (or unofficially, a bribe). Strings are not required--they are implied. The definition of dark money is that the money isn't traceable. So, yes, a Saudi could donate anonymously to a 501c that spends money on promoting a particular candidate.
    – user1530
    May 18, 2017 at 16:25
  • 3
    @EvanCarroll - With Citizens United, yes, corporations can give to PACs, or can directly run advertising campaigns related to elections on their own. As a non-citizen individual, you cannot give directly to a candidate or a party. As blip points out, that was the entire stink about the IRS investigation - targeting a 501c group for investigation for their politics was entirely appropriate because 501c groups are not allowed to be political, at all. There are groups that are allowed to be political, but they are neither anonymous nor tax exempt. May 18, 2017 at 16:32
  • @EvanCarroll "can the corporation donate to a PAC?" No. Corporations cannot give money to PACs nor to candidates. Corporations can give money to the organizations informally called SuperPACs, although foreign corporations should not be able to do so. It's unclear how that is being enforced at the moment. And I'm pretty sure that the number is 503 or 504, not 501. If you have more questions, you should ask a new question, as comments aren't really long enough for proper answers and evade voting.
    – Brythan
    May 18, 2017 at 22:42
  • @Brythan it's a 501(c) of which there are various types. In terms of PACs, it's usually the 501(c)(3) which is often called (not sure rightly or wrongly) a 503(c). There are also 501(c)(4)s and 501(c)(5)s that I think are common in politics.
    – user1530
    May 18, 2017 at 23:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .