In the wake of the Citizens United case, critics of the ruling, which lifted prohibitions on direct campaign spending by corporations, raised the prospect of this allowing foreign nationals to influence US elections. Very serious people dismissed this trusting the our "robust" election laws would be up to the task of keeping foreign influence out of US elections. They were dead wrong.
In a first of its kind case, federal prosecutors say a Mexican businessman funnelled more than $500,000 into U.S. political races through Super PACs and various shell companies. The alleged financial scheme is the first known instance of a foreign national exploiting the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in order to influence U.S. elections. If proven, the campaign finance scandal could reshape the public debate over the high court's landmark decision.
Until now, allegations surrounding Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, the owner of multiple construction companies in Mexico, have not spread beyond local news outlets in San Diego, where he's accused of bankrolling a handful of southern California candidates. But the scandal is beginning to attract national interest as it ensnares a U.S. congressman, a Washington, D.C.-based campaign firm and the legacy of one of the most important Supreme Court decisions in a generation.
Matsura was able to evade US law by using a shell corporation in order to funnel the donations to US candidates. Pre Citizens United this would have involved finding a large number of US citizens willing to act as straw men. Now these shell games are able to be played by corporations, where determining ownership, let alone citizenship, can be a massive task.