Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Stop Foreign Money from Influencing U.S. Elections

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06), Walter Jones (R-NC-03) and Scott Peters (D-CA-52) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to stop foreign money from influencing U.S. elections. The Election Protection and Integrity Certification Act would require that nonprofit and social welfare groups certify that no foreign funds are used in any election activities in which they engage.

“We know from our own law enforcement and intelligence agencies that there was an effort by Russia to covertly influence our elections,” said Kilmer. “What most Americans don’t know is that right now there is a loophole in our campaign finance laws that would allow foreign contributors to use their wealth to influence our elections. I’m proud to work with Representatives Jones and Peters to close this loophole, bring some sunlight to the murky world of campaign spending, and make sure that groups engaged in campaigns don’t have a backdoor to allow foreign contributions in.”

“Foreign money should never be allowed into American elections,” said Congressman Jones. “I want to thank my colleagues for their efforts to ensure integrity and transparency in our political process.”

“This is a straightforward, bipartisan proposal to help keep secret, foreign money from influencing our elections,” said Peters. “Americans deserve a more transparent electoral process and a government that is accountable to them and them alone.”

Under current law nonprofit 501(c) groups can spend money in elections through independent expenditures and political communications. In addition, under current law, foreign nationals, or U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies, can donate to these 501(c) organizations. Nonprofit groups like 501(c) organizations do not have to disclose where their money comes from. As these organizations have increased campaign activities, in particular 501 (c)(4) social welfare groups, there is a growing concern that foreign money could sneak into our elections.

To better ensure foreign contributions are not influencing elections the members’ bill would:

  • Include on the annual return filed by tax-exempt organizations and certain applications for tax-exempt status an additional check box for 501(c) groups to declare no foreign donations went to campaign activities.
  • Require these organizations to certify on Federal Election Commission filing forms that no foreign funds were used for independent expenditures and political communications.
  • Direct the Government Accountability Office to look into corporate campaign activities, and see if foreign funds are being used.