Thursday 16 May 2024

Bill Aims To Close Loopholes To Ensure U.S. Elections Are ‘Free From Foreign Influence’

 A House bill introduced Wednesday would modernize legislation barring foreign money from influencing U.S. elections, closing loopholes that have been leveraged by foreign billionaires to get involved in American politics, its authors told The Daily Wire.

The “Preventing Foreign Interference in American Elections Act,” introduced by Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) and first obtained by The Daily Wire, would amend a 1971 law to “further restrict contributions of foreign nationals.”

The law would not only bar foreign nationals from making direct contributions to candidates and political groups, but also to groups that collect ballots, register voters, or conduct get-out-the-vote efforts. Steil says these loopholes have allowed foreign billionaires to fund indirect election efforts.

“American elections must be free from foreign influence. By closing loopholes that allow foreign nationals from funding elections operations, we are one step closer in preventing foreign involvement in American elections,” Steil told The Daily Wire. “I’m committed to stopping foreign influence in U.S. elections and protecting U.S. donor privacy.”

Experts say current statutes have proven inadequate in the complex modern age of political finance. Caitlin Sutherland, the executive director of Americans for Public Trust, which has worked to make stopping foreign influence in elections a major political issue, celebrated the legislation.

“For too long, loopholes in our laws have allowed Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into organizations directly and indirectly influencing politics and elections,” Sutherland told The Daily Wire. “There’s nothing stopping foreign adversaries from China, North Korea, or Russia from doing the same. This commonsense legislation will help safeguard our politics from foreign meddling.”

If passed, the new legislation would bar foreign nationals from giving donations to support “any public communication that refers to a clearly identified Federal, State, or local political party” or “the administration of a Federal, State, or local election.” The bill also refines existing legislation to create penalties for “indirect contributions” from foreign nationals who give funds to American citizens with the intent of the money being used for the aforementioned activities.

Sutherland’s group found that Wyss-funded nonprofits, including the Wyss Foundation and the Berger Fund, have spent $475 million influencing U.S. politics. It found that $265 million of the money from the Wyss nonprofits went to Arabella Advisors, a dark money network that supports liberal causes across the country.

Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK), a co-sponsor of the legislation, also singled out Wyss when pointing to the impact foreign billionaires have had in American politics.

“Individuals like Hansjörg Wyss should not be allowed to use loopholes to bankroll liberal groups such as the 1630 Fund or Arabella Advisors,” Bice asserted. “We must ensure that foreign individuals or even foreign adversaries are not corrupting our political processes with money or influence.”

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