Here is a video, showing a number of Russian opposition activists visiting U.S. embassy before Russian presidential elections:


On way back they all say a completely identical phrase to the camera (actually held by an amauter) "You are Surkov's propaganda" (Surkov is a Putin's deputy)

It is known that U.S. openly supports Russian opposition.

Thus my question is whether it is permitted in the US to spend the taxpayers' money to support pro-US parties in foreign countries?

If so, whether it is permitted for a currently ruling party in the US to spend the state money to support their own political agenda abroad?

How this was arranged formerly and whether there were any political or judicial controversies about this issue?

  • 2
    FYI, Surkov is no longer Putin's deputy. He's now in charge of stealing money.... errr.... heading the research into nanotechnology. Previously, he was the main ideological theorist of Putin regime.
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 12:04
  • 11
    How is this question historical? It deals with current law. Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 13:27
  • 3
    @DVK he exactly his deputy, Putin is premier and Surkov is vice-premier.
    – Anixx
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 16:29
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    I wouldn't take @Gangnus 's extra step of censoring the question, but he's absoultely right about the rest. I really dislike the rhetorical trick of hand-waving the weakest part of your thesis away by prefacing it with "It's known that...".
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 13:41
  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic. Could we place a historical "lock" on this question. It was acceptable in an earlier incarnation of History SE (e.g. before the advent of Politics SE), but would be off topic today.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 16:25

5 Answers 5


The US does provide money abroad for humanitarian reasons, although I am sure some money can go through certain channels (or agencies) and find it's way to foreign political parties that are pro-US. This is certainly the case with governments which receive funds from the US in order to keep the party in power, or certainly influence a pro-US point of view. It happens, has happened and in many ways is legal as it's money spent under Foreign Aid, although it is becoming a political topic now that the US is heading into elections and our budget can't readily support such subsidies. If there are political parties being given money I don't know, but it probably happens and in many cases is probably done so it's untracable.

Political parties in power in the US do give money to support parts of their agenda, the most recent example I can think of is the Bush Administration stopped giving aid money to organizations that promoted abortion.

There are controversies, but many either blow over when a scandal comes up, or a new Administration comes to power and then reverts any foreign aid assistance guidelines imposed by the previous administration.

  • Is it legal to give money to US parties and politicians from the state budget through some programs? For example, can Democratic party start a government program "to support democracy" that indirectly (through say, Freedom House) gives money to itself?
    – Anixx
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 15:18

Just as an interesting contra-discussion, the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 were largely influenced by the French government's desire to fund Jefferson during the election of 1796. Foreign governments have been involved in elections for a long time.

  • Very true, it does go back quite a ways back and forth so it's not just the US that has done this.
    – MichaelF
    Commented Jan 20, 2012 at 13:14
  • @AffableGeek - True, but that's a different issue. It is quite illegal in the USA for political campaigns to accept money from foriegn donors. However, its perfectly legal in the USA for USA donors to give donations to foriegn campaigns (as long as it isn't a direct bribe, which would be illegal). Still, most countries have as dim a view of receiving such gifts as ours does, so doing this directly is probably not a good way to help the cause of someone you support.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 18:06
  • @T.E.D. What law prohibits foreign donors from giving to American political campaigns? Indeed, it would run counter to the Buckley decision to make a law to this effect. The right to contribute to a campaign is protected free speech. Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 15:23
  • @AffableGeek - Nope. Foriegn nationals who are not permanent residents are barred by federal law from donating directly, or even spending on their own in USA political campaigns. The Supremes specificaly upheld this even after Citizens United (see Bluman, et al., v. Federal Election Commission). Of course the question after CU is how they can be stopped, since such funds can now be funneled through groups that are not required to disclose their donors.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 16:09

You need to make distinctions between:

  • US government openly supporting a group (likely, not happening though for reasons of plausible deniability/optics rather than some law). This may be confused with legit spending on assorted humanitarian etc... programs though. The latter is legal as long as Congress appropriates the money for the purpose.

  • US government clandestinely supporting a group - e.g. via CIA. This is legal AFAIK, as long as all the bureaucratic ass-covering is done.

  • US non-governmental organizations doing this (in case of Russia, Soros seemed to be a big sugar daddy in 1990s/2000s). DEFINITELY not coordinated with US govt in case of Soros in 2000s, since Soros is politically a mortal enemy of GW Bush. Totally legal as long as one doesn't run afoul of anti-bribery/anti-corruption laws.

  • I meant state funds spent on opposition groups (or on groups with certain ideology).
    – Anixx
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 16:31
  • Any of the 3 options above can and has been spent on those.
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 17:57
  • +1, although the Soros/Bush thing was unnessecary (and arguably untrue).
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 18:19

USA spent many time and money to win in the "cold" war, now USA just changed ways to protect their interests in Russia (main exUSSR country). Nothing has changed.



According to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), the State Department gave $349,276 in U.S. taxpayer-funded grants to a political group in Israel to build a campaign operation, which subsequently was used to try to influence Israelis to vote against conservative Benjamin Netanyahu in the March 2015 election for prime minister.

In the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report about the State Department’s action, Chairman Bob Portman (R-Ohio) said, “It is completely unacceptable that U.S. taxpayer dollars were used to build a political campaign infrastructure that was deployed — immediately after the grant ended — against the leader [Netanyahu] of our closest ally in the Middle East. American resources should be used to help our allies in the region, not undermine them.”

Usually it wouldn't be directly, people don't like outsiders influencing politics, from the "A Call for Unity" letter by Southern clergy against Martin Luther King Jr., to accusations by the Bolsheviks against the White armies.

But the US has funded foreign political groups to influence elections to get a party elected.

  • This says nothing about US law, so doesn't answer the question. (Which in a way is fortunate, as it allows us to avoid the issue of how its entirely sourced from a partisan propaganda outlet with shady finances).
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 14:10

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