The American Chemical Council is a lobbying group that takes large amounts of dark money. Dark money is essentially donations of unlimited amounts that are given by wealthy individuals of or corporations. The ACC then bundles these bribes together and spends them as they see fit in US elections. From 2012 to 2016 the group spent over $40 million on things like advertisements and contributing to super PACs.
Wanhua Chemical is a Chinese chemical company created in 1998 under the name Yantai Wanhua Polyurethane Company. The Chinese government maintains control over this corporation, even though there was public purchasing of stocks a few years after the company’s inception. Now Wanhua has joined the ACC.
While you might be wondering how a foreign company can join the American Chemical council, it seems it wasn’t that difficult. In fact, the ACC will accept any chemical company that sells chemical products in the US. This is something Wanhua does. The company has also pledged that they will spend around $1 billion dollars building a new plant in Louisiana, which is currently under construction.
Now I assume most US citizens are aware that foreign companies are not allowed to meddle in our elections, see the relentless coverage of Russian Twitter trolls on mainstream news. However, it seems this is quite an easy thing to get around.
Because of the Citizens United case, groups like the ACC can essentially give as much money as they wish to political campaigns. While Wanhua may technically not be able to use its money in this avenue it would be hard to tell. Once the company gives the ACC they money it is up to the ACC to put it in a separate place where it won’t be spent on elections. I don’t know if I trust them to do that, but it may be impossible to figure out where their money goes. It would be incredibly difficult to determine whether the money used to support lobbyists or politicians was directly from Wanhua or just from the overarching group that they pay dues to.
Another issue is that when a foreign company is incorporated in the US it is considered a US company. This would allow them to wield their money freely and could make it harder to fight them trying to use money to influence elections. The aim of this article is not to specifically bash the ACC. The ACC is not the only group that takes money from foreign companies and also donates money to US politics .
The real issue here is that Citizens United had made it legal to bribe our elected officials. And once these officials get a taste of all that money, they’re hooked . Once the corporations and individuals get all the perks from the buying of politicians they won’t stop either .
I think the only real way to end this corruption is to get money totally out of politics. Whether this is by allowing only small dollar donations or creating publicly financed elections, the main issue is that we can’t allow legalized bribery anymore .
The Intercept has a great article on this and a great series on foreign money in our political system that I would encourage everyone to check out.