Washington, D.C. – Following the recent revelation in TIME that Russian agents bought ads on Facebook to disseminate propaganda to influence the 2016 election, End Citizens United (ECU) today launched a national campaign pressuring Democrats and Republicans in Congress to pass the Get Foreign Money Out of U.S. Elections Act. The bill, introduced by Representative Jamie Raskin (MD-08), would close loopholes that allow foreign-owned, foreign-controlled and foreign-influenced corporations to funnel unlimited cash into U.S. elections.
As the largest campaign finance reform PAC in the country with more than three million members, ECU will launch a grassroots campaign calling on members of Congress to co-sponsor the bill. It will also pressure congressional leadership to schedule a vote on the legislation.
ECU will mobilize its members to call and email their representatives, attend local town hall events and write letters to the editor in their hometown newspapers. It will also launch paid advertising in representatives’ home districts and Washington, D.C. The first wave of targets include: Martha McSally (AZ-2), Ed Royce (CA-39), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), Darrell Issa (CA-49), Mike Coffman (CO-6), Peter Roskam (IL-6), Erik Paulsen (MN-3) and Speaker Paul Ryan (WI -1).
“Americans deserve to have faith that our elections are fair and free from undue outside influence – whether it is international or domestic, from Russia or Wall Street. The fact that foreign countries have the ability to manipulate our elections through loopholes in our system leaves our democracy vulnerable to attack,” said ECU Executive Director Tiffany Muller. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, we can all agree that our elections should be decided by the American people, and the American people alone. Any delay from Congress risks our economic and national security.”
In discussing the bill, Representative Raskin has said, “When the Supreme Court invented corporate free speech rights in Citizens United, it created a massive foreign money loophole in our country’s campaign finance system. The problem is that domestically registered corporations can be taken-over, bought-up, controlled, or influenced by foreign corporations and foreign nationals, and this means foreign powers have an easy and perfectly lawful way to funnel foreign money into American elections…We must protect the integrity of American democracy and close this dangerous foreign money loophole. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work with me to build a wall of separation between foreign money and democratic elections.”
Under current campaign finance laws, corporations are allowed to spend unlimited and often undisclosed money on campaigns, and loopholes exist for foreign companies to spend in our elections. In 2016, American Pacific International Capital, a company incorporated in California but owned and controlled by Chinese nationals Gordon Tang and Huaidan Chen, contributed $1.3 million to Jeb Bush’s Super PAC Right to Rise USA through a loophole that allows foreign companies with U.S. subsidiaries to spend in American elections.
Last week, FEC Chairman Steven Walther said that at the beginning of the year, the agency had 15 pending cases alleging illegal foreign campaign spending in U.S. elections.
Following initial reports about Russian hacking in our elections last summer, End Citizens United warned about these loopholes and the number of ways Russia could exploit them.
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