How Foreign Money Influences U.S. Elections

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A new multi-part series on the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision shows how foreign money is flowing into the U.S. political process.
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Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear this interview.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case of Citizens United, a decision that changed the rules for how money can be spent in political campaigns. By determining that money equals free speech, the nation's highest court provided a legal pathway for corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on ads to convince people to either vote for or against a candidate seeking office.

Less than a week after the ruling came down, President Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address with the Supreme Court justices feet away.  

"With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the flood gates for special interests, including foreign corporations to spend without influence in our elections,” the president said.

What couldn't be heard but was captured by cameras was Justice Samuel Alito shaking his head and mouthing the words "Not true," through the applause.

But was he wrong?

The Intercept has published a multi-part series on foreign influence in politics, outlining potential paths for foreign money to flow into the U.S. political process. Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear Jon Schwarz, a reporter for The Intercept, discuss his findings.