A couple of years ago, presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders gave a foreign policy speech in which he decried what he called “the international authoritarian axis.” It’s good rhetoric, but the question is what would that foreign policy look like? I think one component of such a policy would have to be going after tax fraud and money laundering. Most authoritarian regimes (as well as our homegrown authoritarians here in the Ol’ U.S. of A) need some kind of way to move money around illegally, both to enjoy the fruits of their spoils and to further their authoritarian methods. Here’s one such example–Cambridge Analytica (boldface mine):
An explosive leak of tens of thousands of documents from the defunct data firm Cambridge Analytica is set to expose the inner workings of the company that collapsed after the Observer revealed it had misappropriated 87 million Facebook profiles.
More than 100,000 documents relating to work in 68 countries that will lay bare the global infrastructure of an operation used to manipulate voters on “an industrial scale” are set to be released over the next months…
Kaiser said the Facebook data scandal was part of a much bigger global operation that worked with governments, intelligence agencies, commercial companies and political campaigns to manipulate and influence people, and that raised huge national security implications.
The unpublished documents contain material that suggests the firm was working for a political party in Ukraine in 2017 even while under investigation as part of Mueller’s inquiry and emails that Kaiser says describe how the firm helped develop a “sophisticated infrastructure of shell companies that were designed to funnel dark money into politics”.
“There are emails between these major Trump donors discussing ways of obscuring the source of their donations through a series of different financial vehicles. These documents expose the entire dark money machinery behind US politics.” The same machinery, she says, was deployed in other countries that Cambridge Analytica worked in, including, she claims, Britain.
If Sanders, or for that matter Warren, are serious about attacking the role of money in politics here and abroad, they will have to go after the various money laundering schemes and other financial dodges designed to move money around. Cut off the money, and many of these authoritarian groups wither. Who knows? We might live long enough for U.S. troops to invade tax havens to seize various filings (and, I for one, look forward to bringing democracy to Delaware and North Dakota).