Despite laws banning foreign money in American elections , loopholes in our campaign finance system have left our electoral process vulnerable to spending by foreign governments, corporations and foreign nationals. Foreign entities can and have spent unchecked and undisclosed money to influence U.S. elections. One of the largest vulnerabilities was created by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision , which gave corporations the same rights as people to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections.
News that a Russian company bought political ads on social media in the 2016 election is a striking reminder that our elections are vulnerable to influence through foreign money and we are unprepared to prevent it. In addition to avoiding disclosure through digital ads there are loopholes that foreign governments exploit to spend tens of millions of dollars or more.
Foreign governments can mask their spending, making it difficult, and sometimes impossible to follow the money to its source.
There are several ways foreign money can make its way into U.S. elections. Some examples include passing it through corporations or advocacy groups or through the creation of shell corporations.
Thanks to Citizens United, corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. Current FEC rules allow foreign-owned corporations to spend in elections as long as a subsidiary is registered in the U.S. and the election spending is made by American citizens using U.S. profits. 
Investments in American companies:
Another pathway for foreign money through a U.S. corporation is its investors. Most publicly traded corporations have a substantial portion of foreign shareholders. An estimated 25 percent of all US stock are foreign-owned – a number that has ballooned from just 5 percent 30 years ago.  Because corporations aren’t required to report dark money spending it’s difficult to know which companies influenced by foreign investors are spending in U.S. elections.
Trade associations represent corporate interests, including foreign corporations or interests, and can accept foreign money. They have power far beyond typical campaign committees such as candidates or traditional PACs or even Super PACs, which are required to disclose their donors. The loophole can allow foreign corporations to spend unlimited and undisclosed money in U.S. elections because there are no disclosure laws that allow for assured transparency. 
A foreign entity can anonymously create a shell LLC that serves no purpose other than to make political contributions. The new ‘shell corporation’ can spend unlimited money on elections. Although this is an illegal use of an LLC, it can donate directly to a 501c4, which does not publicly report its donors, hiding the illegal contributions.  In 2016, there was a surge in donations from shell corporations, which have the sole purpose of hiding donors’ identities. 
Loose reporting requirements, lax enforcements and anonymous political spending mean that tracking – and preventing – foreign spending in U.S. elections is next to impossible. The examples in this report likely represent only the tip of the iceberg. Foreign governments like Russia and China have unfettered access to spend unlimited amounts of money, anonymously, to influence American elections and our democracy.
In March 2017, Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) introduced the ‘Get Foreign Money Out of U.S. Elections Act.’ The bill, which has been co-sponsored by over 30 members of Congress, would close a campaign finance loophole that allows foreign-owned, foreign-controlled and foreign-influenced corporations to pass unlimited and undisclosed money into U.S. elections. 
Strong disclosure laws would prevent foreign governments from the ability to hide their donations in 501(c)4 dark money groups and could shine light on foreign owned companies that are spending in U.S. elections. They would also help prevent the illegal use of LLC shell corporations as a means to funnel money into elections.
The threat of foreign money influencing U.S. elections is an issue of top concern of voters. Research conducted by End Citizens United over the last 18 months demonstrates that voters worry about foreign money and want their leaders to act to prevent it from corrupting our electoral system.