Phillips, Bipartisan Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Prohibit Foreign Spending in All American Elections

November 3, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Dean Phillips (D-MN), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Jared Golden (D-ME) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) introduced bipartisan legislation to prohibit foreign contributions in elections. Specifically, the Stop Foreign Funds in Elections Act would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act to ban contributions and donations made by foreign nationals in state and local ballot initiatives and referenda. 

In a July vote to be made public this week, commissioners at the Federal Election Commission voted to conclude that ballot initiatives don’t count as elections under federal law, interpreting the Federal Election Campaign Act to only prohibit foreign contributions and donations made in candidate elections, but not ballot initiatives and referendums.

“Restoring faith in our democracy means ensuring that the American electorate—not foreign nationals—are empowered to affect change in this country,” said Rep. Phillips. “It is absurd that foreign interference in our elections would even be in question, let alone affirmed by members of the FEC. As our democracy faces threats from the inside and out, Congress must act urgently to close this dangerous loophole.”

“Allowing foreign contributions to ballot initiatives and referenda poses a direct threat to our nation’s democratic process,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “Our bipartisan legislation will put a stop to this illicit practice and ensure that state and local elections are free from foreign influence and decided solely by American voters.” 

“Florida has a rich history of using ballot initiatives to amend our state’s constitution, and this important democratic process should be conducted free of any and all interference from foreign nationals,” said Rep. Murphy. “I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan bill to prohibit financial contributions and donations made by foreign nationals to influence the outcome of state and local ballot initiatives.”

“This FEC decision is shortsighted and dangerous. Opening the door for the Chinese Communist Party to influence our democratic process threatens both our elections and our national security. Congress must immediately pass this important legislation to protect our democracy from malign foreign interference or we will come to regret it,” said Rep. Gallagher.

“In no way, shape, or form should foreign nationals be allowed to pour money into influencing our nation’s elections,” Rep. Herrera Beutler said. “After the FEC’s determination this week green lighting foreign contributions in ballot initiatives and referendums, it’s time for Congress to act quickly to end those exceptions. That’s why I’m helping lead this bipartisan legislation to prevent foreign influence in our elections, and ensure the only voices in our elections are those of American citizens.”

“This is simple. American elections — from dogcatcher to ballot questions to the presidency — should be decided by Americans, not foreign citizens or foreign corporations. We’ve made it illegal for political candidates to accept foreign campaign contributions and we shouldn't let foreign money pour into ballot question campaigns either. I'm proud to help lead this bipartisan effort to get foreign money out of our elections,” said Rep. Golden.

Text of the legislation can be found here.

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