Big Canadian Donation to Romney PAC Might Be Illegal

US subsidiary of Fairfax Financial Holdings gave $1M

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 5, 2012 1:23 PM CDT

(Newser) – Restore Our Future, a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, may have broken the law by accepting a million-dollar donation from OdysseyRe, a Connecticut-based company that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian insurance giant Fairfax Financial Holdings, the Center for Public Integrity reports. Federal law prohibits any foreign national from "directly or indirectly" contributing money to influence US elections, but that law was written before the Citizens United ruling granted corporations the right to donate directly to campaigns, so it's not entirely clear if it applies to foreign companies.

The donation "raises some legal red flags," says one attorney at the Campaign Legal Center. He faulted the FEC for failing to "provide clarity" on the issue. Fairfax and OdysseyRe believe they haven't broken any laws. OdysseyRe's general counsel says no foreign companies or nationals "were part of the decision-making process." Fairfax profited handsomely on derivatives during the housing crash, and since 2008 it has spent $320,000 to lobby Washington regarding derivative regulation.

Fairfax Holdings Chairman and CEO Prem Watsa smiles as he leaves the company's annual general meeting in Toronto, Canada, April 15, 2009. The Indian-born businessman owns or controls 45% of Fairfax.
Fairfax Holdings Chairman and CEO Prem Watsa smiles as he leaves the company's annual general meeting in Toronto, Canada, April 15, 2009. The Indian-born businessman owns or controls 45% of Fairfax.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)
Mitt Romney boards his campaign plane at Weyers Cave-Shenandoah Valley Airport in Weyers Cave, Va., Oct. 5, 2012.
Mitt Romney boards his campaign plane at Weyers Cave-Shenandoah Valley Airport in Weyers Cave, Va., Oct. 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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