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Hypocrisy Alert: Warren Calls for More Transparency for Foreign Donations to Campaigns

Warren attended a fundraiser over the weekend at the home of former Wall Street executive whose company is responsible “for the greatest amount of known foreign-connected money in U.S. elections.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called for more transparency around campaign fundraising, specifically foreign money, that might be influencing American elections during a Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee hearing on the influence of foreign money on U.S. elections on Wednesday.

However, Warren spent the weekend at a fundraiser hosted by a former Wall Street executive whose former company was “responsible for the greatest amount of known foreign-connected money in U.S. elections” during the 2016 election.

“People are frustrated with our government. Washington ought to work for working families, and instead it works for the wealthy and well-connected,” Warren said. “That’s our problem, how do we solve it? Transparency is not going to solve it all by its self, but at least it’s a first step.”

Warren proceeded to ask the people testifying before the committee about “how effective the current law is at making sure the public knows who’s funding efforts to influence our elections?”

“It’s not effective at all,” Lawrence M. Noble from the Campaign Legal Center responded. Noble said super PACs accept donations from shell corporations that were set up with the idea of not disclosing where the money is coming from.

The Washington Free Beacon reported on Wednesday that Warren, along with other Senate Democrats, attended the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s annual donor retreat in Martha’s Vineyard over the weekend.

The exclusive fundraiser was hosted by former UBS bank executive Robert Wolf. UBS lobbied vigorously against “Democratic campaign finance legislation that would have limited their U.S. political activities,” a pet project of Warren’s.

According to a Washington Post report from 2010:

Overseas companies have a vigorous lobbying presence in Washington, and many of them played a prominent role in derailing Democratic campaign finance legislation that would have limited their U.S. political activities. The bill, blocked by Senate Republicans, would have classified more multinationals as foreign entities and, in early drafts, could have prevented them from having PACs.

More than a dozen foreign-connected companies, including subsidiaries of Germany’s BASF Corp. and Switzerland’s UBS Americas, registered to lobby against the legislation, records show.

OpenSecrets reported in April 2016 that UBS “is responsible for the greatest amount of known foreign-connected money in U.S. elections so far this cycle.”

According to OpenSecrets:

“It’s the bank’s U.S. subsidiary — UBS Americas — that has directed more money to Congress through its political action committee than subsidiaries of any other foreign company. UBS Americas’ PAC has given $645,250 to candidates so far in 2016 and gave about $1.5 million in 2014. The firm in second place isn’t even close: The U.K.’s BAE Systems has given $363,500 so far.”

OpenSecrets also reported that UBS, “led the pack in PAC giving for the past three cycles. Its political giving shot up in 2012 to $861,500 from $469,500 in 2010.”

Wolf was UBS’s chairman for the Americas until 2012, before leaving to start his own advisory shop.

According to the Free Beacon, “Warren didn’t make any public announcement over the weekend regarding her participation in the donor event.”