Lobbying firms tell corporations how to keep their heads down

A leading DC lobbying firm has advised it’s clients about how to deal with the Citizens United ruling.

" Will U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations be exempt?

Yes. The definition of "foreign national" exempts any person that is "not an individual and is organized under or created by the laws of the United States or of any State or other place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and has its principal place of business within the United States." 22 U.S.C. § 611(b)(2). The Federal Election Commission ("FEC") has determined that this exemption includes a U.S. corporation that is a subsidiary of a foreign corporation, so long as the foreign parent does not finance U.S. political activities and no foreign national participates in any decision to make expenditures. Many of the legislative proposals that "respond" to Citizens United seek to tighten or close this exemption."

"Therefore, most corporations will probably proceed cautiously. If such independent expenditures are made, groups of corporations within an industry may form coalitions or use existing trade associations to support candidates favorable to policy positions that affect the group as a whole. While corporations that contribute to these expenditures might still be disclosed, this indirect approach can provide sufficient cover such that no single contributing entity receives the bulk of public scrutiny.

Corporations could further lower their profile in such cases by not making contributions specific to a particular expenditure by that third-party corporation. Such independent expenditures can also take the form of advertisements in "under-the radar" sources, such as ideologically-based talk radio, web-based ads or phone banks. Since state and local laws preventing corporate political expenditures will also likely be repealed as a result of Citizens United, small corporations may also become involved in state and local races through regional media."

From here.