By: Alyson Kay
Representative Jaime Raskin (MD-08) introduced a bill called the Get Foreign Money out of US Elections Act to the US House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The bill, also known as H.R. 1615, intends to amend the Federal Campaign Act of 1971 by closing the foreign money loophole for campaign spending that was created by the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling.
“Domestically registered corporations can be taken-over, bought-up, controlled, or influenced by foreign corporations and foreign nationals, and this means foreign powers have an easy and perfectly lawful way to funnel foreign money into American elections,” said Raskin in a press release.
The bill was created amid concerns about foreign interference during the 2016 Presidential Election. Although US law prevents people who are citizens of other countries from contributing to US elections, the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling allows American registered corporations that are foreign owned, foreign controlled and foreign influenced to funnel unlimited cash into US elections.
The bill also aims to clarify which types of companies may not give campaign funds under the amended law, introducing limits on companies who have foreign citizens controlling a certain percentage of voting sharesor otherwise have the power to control the decision-making process of the company with respect to its interests in the United States.
The bill also intends to make donating to Super PACs permissible only if each person who manages the fund is a US citizen or a permanent resident of the United States. It would require any foreign citizen on the board of directors of a company to abstain from voting on matters about the fund.
The new bill has 26 original cosponsors in several states, all members of the Democratic Party. The bill also has the support of the liberal advocacy group Common Cause and the consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen.
According to Common Cause director of Legislative affairs Aaron Scherb, securing this loophole is needed to help protect the integrity of US elections from hostile foreign entities.
Public Citizen also voiced concerns about the impact the loophole has on US elections.
“The mounting suspicions of foreign interests attempting to sway US elections – through laundering foreign money into our campaigns to direct intervention by planting news stories – should be of grave concern to every American,” said Craig Holman of Public Citizen. “The integrity of our elections is at stake.”