Following the bombshell revelation that a Russian company bought political ads on Facebook in the 2016 election, End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller released the following statement:
“New revelations that a Russian company bought ads on Facebook underscore just how vulnerable our elections are to foreign money and how unprepared we are to do anything about it.
“A $100,000 digital ad campaign from a Russian troll farm may just be the beginning. Thanks to efforts to dismantle our campaign finance laws and enforcement system, we may never know the amount of money Russia – or any country – spent to interfere in the election. Loopholes in the law that allow unlimited undisclosed spending, corporate spending with no real reporting, and gridlocked enforcement agencies mean foreign governments could have spent in the tens of millions of dollars, or more, in 2016 alone.
“In addition to Russia’s nefarious meddling in 2016, we have other have evidence and examples that foreign agents are spending in U.S. elections. What we don’t know is how much or how often.
“Republican members of Congress who have opposed reforms to strengthen our campaign finance laws have some soul searching to do. They’ll need a gut check to decide whether giving a handful of mega-donors outsized influence is worth the risks of giving foreign governments backdoor access to American democracy. The threat is real, and it is serious.
“It’s time Washington got to work to rebuild our campaign finance system by requiring disclosure, closing loopholes that allow foreign money into elections, and restoring the ability of federal agencies to enforce the law.”
While it is illegal for foreigners to donate to American elections, loopholes in our campaign finance system provide the potential for foreign countries to spend unlimited money in secret to influence our elections. As ECU has warned, foreign governments and agents could exploit a system of shell corporations, political groups that do not report their donors, and Super PACs. In fact, some foreign agents have already done so. ECU has called on Congress to pass a number of bills to close these loopholes including, the By the People reform package, the Get Foreign Money Out of U.S. Elections Act and the 2017 DISCLOSE Act.