News Release

Foreign Influence in U.S. Politics

JONATHAN MARSHALLnewrelease17
He is an award-winning journalist and author of five books on international affairs and national security. Marshall has recently published a series of articles on the influence of foreign money in American politics, featured on ConsortiumNews. He states: “The combination of lax enforcement and tremendously high stakes — including billions of dollars in foreign aid, arms sales, and economic sanctions — has led to intense foreign lobbying in the United States, some of it financed with recycled U.S. aid.”

On Russia’s influence in American politics, Marshall writes: “Russia-gate has focused attention on requirements for U.S. citizens acting as ‘foreign agents’ to register with the Justice Department, but these rules have been sporadically or selectively enforced for decades.”

In “Saudis Win Hearts by Lining Pockets,” Marshall cites evidence that “the Saudi government now employs 14 lobbying firms, at an estimated cost of well over $1.3 million a month, more than it spent in all of 2000. Their hired guns include Podesta Group, co-founded by Tony Podesta, one of the Democratic Party’s top fundraisers, and his brother John Podesta, who was Hillary Clinton’s national campaign chairman in 2016; BGR Group, whose name partners include the former head of the Republican Party; and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi. …

“In its quest for influence,” Marshall adds, “Saudi Arabia takes no chances and spares no expense. Since the 1940s, when their country became an oil superpower, the Saudis have handed out vast sums of cash on a bipartisan basis to powerful and soon-to-be powerful Americans.”

On Israel’s influence in American politics Marshall states: “Unlike most other foreign lobbies, the pro-Israel lobby draws much of its strength from grass-roots support. With little organized opposition, it can influence Congress more readily than better-funded business lobbies that face stiff competition. However, the single biggest source of its power is not voters — only a tiny percentage make Israel their top political priority — but campaign funds.

“Hillary Clinton’s pandering to the pro-Israel lobby during the 2016 election — promising AIPAC that she would take relations with Israel ‘to the next level’ and that she would meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during her first month in office — reflected her financial dependence on pro-Israel funders. Chief among them was billionaire donor Haim Saban, a hawkish Israeli-American who famously said, ‘I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.’”

However, Marshall also notes that: “As Israel pursues ever more extreme policies grounded in ethnic and religious nationalism, the pro-Israel lobby has become increasingly aligned with the Republican Party.”

Marshall’s articles also examine political lobbying by Turkey, Ukraine, and Taiwan.