The hidden hand of French companies in US elections

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While attention in France and elsewhere in the world last week was mainly focused on the presidential race between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, there were also many Congressional contests taking place across the United States. An investigation has revealed that a number of French groups were involved in funding candidates at those elections. Officially the fund-raising was carried out by American employees of those French businesses rather than the firms themselves. But, curiously, these staff members tended to favour Congressional candidates who were close to their own company's interests. Martine Orange reports.

 

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It threatened to be an embarrassing affair. How could French companies justify spending 728,000 dollars in direct financing of candidates in the state and local elections that coincided with the presidential contest last week? Confronted with the revelations – made on the environmental and social affairs website Basta! – all the business groups concerned gave the same response and pleaded their innocence. This was that it was not the companies themselves but their employees working in the firms' American subsidiaries who had voluntarily decided to make a personal contribution to the financing of the campaigns.