Cdn-owned, U.S. firms set up PACs to fundraise for Congressional races

OTTAWA — Political action committees affiliated with companies based in the United States but owned by Canadian corporations are pouring money into this year’s U.S. House and Senate races.

OTTAWA — Political action committees affiliated with companies based in the United States but owned by Canadian corporations are pouring money into this year’s U.S. House and Senate races.

Fundraising data provided by the website OpenSecrets.org show American subsidiaries of Canadian companies have formed political action committees that so far have given US$163,500 to candidates running in the Congressional elections.

Donations to Republicans were US$89,250, compared with US$74,250 for Democrats.

Political donations from foreigners are banned in the United States. But there is nothing to stop businesses based in the States but owned by foreign companies from forming entities called political action committees, or PACs, which are then funded by donations from their American employees.

These PACS are set up and run by corporations, labour unions, membership organizations or trade associations. They can only solicit contributions from people associated with the connected or sponsoring organization.

U.S. subsidiaries of some of Canada’s biggest companies have already formed PACs ahead of the November Congressional vote.

The Canadian parent companies say U.S. employees at their American subsidiaries made contributions of their own volition, with no direction or influence from north of the border.

“While I can’t comment on the specifics, I would note that the activities of PACs are completely transparent with information available on the U.S. Federal Election Commission’s website,” Manulife Financial spokesman Michael May said in an email.

“Corporate funds are not involved in contributions; employees are the sole source of PAC funding.”

Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC) owns John Hancock Life Insurance. Fundraising data from the Center for Responsive Politics, which runs OpenSecrets.org, show the John Hancock-affiliated PAC has given US$29,000 to Democrats and US$27,500 to Republicans — the most money of any Canadian-owned, U.S.-based company.

Other U.S. subsidiaries of big Canadian companies have also formed PACs.

The Goldstrike mine in Nevada is the largest gold-producing mine for Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX). Barrick Goldstrike Mines, a U.S. subsidiary of Barrick Gold, has set up a PAC, which contributed US$19,000 to Democrats and US$28,000 to Republicans. Most donations went to lawmakers from Nevada.

Barrick did not respond to questions.

The practice of U.S. companies with foreign owners forming PACs and raising money for their preferred candidates and causes has gone on for years. But this election season will be different. A landmark 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, known as the Citizens United case, allowed for the creation of super political action committees, or super PACs.

Super PACs can raise limitless amounts of money from corporations, unions and other well-financed donors to run campaign ads. U.S. Federal Elections Commission guidelines only require super PACs to disclose minimal information about the sources of their money.

Unlike traditional PACs, super PACs cannot donate directly to a campaign or work with candidates on the content of their ads.

At least one election law expert worries foreigners could covertly donate through super PACs.

“There’s definitely a threat of foreign influence in U.S. elections as a result of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision here,” said Paul Ryan of the non-profit Campaign Legal Center in Washington, which advocates election financing reform.

“The Federal Elections Commission is asleep on the job in not doing its job to reduce or eliminate any threat of foreign influence on U.S. elections.”

Just Posted

Candles, flowers, messages of support at scene of Toronto van attack

TORONTO — Candles, flowers and messages of support are being left this… Continue reading

Trudeau calls van attack ‘horrific and senseless,’ says no apparent terror link

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a Toronto man’s deadly rampage… Continue reading

Restaurant Brands announces ‘Working Together’ plan to improve Tim Hortons

OAKVILLE, Ont. — Restaurant Brands International Inc. announced a plan to improve… Continue reading

AP-NORC poll: Privacy debacle prompts social-media changes

NEW YORK — If you’ve made changes to how you use social… Continue reading

Get Into My Car … Amazon begins delivery to vehicles

SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon latest perk … free delivery to your car.… Continue reading

WATCH: Central Alberta dancers take over Red Deer College with their moves

Danceworks Central Alberta Dance Festival is now in its 38th year

Habana, World Cup winner & Springbok record-holder, retiring

Bryan Habana, the lightning-fast South Africa wing and World Cup winner with… Continue reading

Canadians head home after U-17 soccer tournament called off due to violence

Canada coach Bev Priestman was preparing her team for a game Sunday… Continue reading

TV’s ‘Homeland’ feels challenge of competing with real world

WASHINGTON — Members of the cast of TV’s “Homeland” call it “spy… Continue reading

Opioid treatment gap in Medicare: methadone clinics

One in three older Americans with Medicare drug coverage is prescribed opioid… Continue reading

‘RFK Funeral Train’ show: Kennedy’s final journey in photos

SAN FRANCISCO — The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 50 years… Continue reading

Ten dead, 15 injured in van incident authorities call an horrific attack

TORONTO — The death toll rose to at least 10 late Monday… Continue reading

Andersen leads Maple Leafs in win over Bruins to force Game 7

Maple Leafs 3 Bruins 1 (Best of seven game series tied at… Continue reading

As Osoyoos Indian Band flourishes, so too does Okanagan’s wine tourism

Indigenous practices have driven growth of South Okanagan’s wine history and agricultural influence

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month