In a news article over the weekend, the New York Times rejected President Obama's complaint that foreign money was tainting American elections via the Chamber of Commerce. "There is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents," the Times reported, going on to say that "Organizations from both ends of the political spectrum, from liberal ones like the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Sierra Club to conservative groups like the National Rifle Association, have international affiliations and get money from foreign entities while at the same time pushing political causes in the United States."
The article doesn't go into any further detail about the Sierra Club's foreign funding sources, but it's potentially fertile ground for an enterprising journalist or news organization. The Sierra Club Foundation's annual report for 2009 lists donors by the amount of their giving, and in the $1 million plus category, the only names are "Anonymous Donors." There are also anonymous "foundations, corporations, and organizations." Wouldn't it be something if, just to mention one entirely hypothetical possibility, among those supporting the Sierra Club's campaign against drilling off American shores or in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge were companies or individuals with energy investments in Russia, Venezuela, or the Middle East that will be more valuable so long as American energy supplies are diminished by environmental regulations supported by the Sierra Club?
Most donors and employees to the Sierra Club probably have other motives, and if the Sierra Club or anyone else wants to take anonymous foreign money and spend it on American issue advocacy, it's legal to do so. Still, it's an area that's potentially ripe for further inquiry.