Friday, Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) and Richard Hanna (R-NY-22) introduced bipartisan legislation to stop foreign money from influencing U.S. elections. The Election Protection and Integrity Certification Act would require that nonprofit and social welfare groups certify that no foreign funds are used in any election activities in which they engage.
“There’s already too much money in politics,” said Kilmer. “But the potential for foreign contributors to try and influence electoral outcomes is a threat to the integrity of our political process. I’m proud to have worked with Representative Hanna on a bipartisan bill that will bring some sunlight to this process and make sure that groups engaged in campaigns have not opened a backdoor to foreign contributions.”
“One of the hallmarks of American democracy is a transparent government. I believe that same ideal should also apply to our elections,” Hanna said. “With the increasing amounts of money and outside groups involving themselves in American politics, it is an easy step to require non-profit organizations to certify that they are complying with the law. Our bill creates this additional safeguard so that Americans will know that foreign money does not play any part in the outcome of our elections.”
Nonprofit groups can spend money in elections and foreign nationals, or U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies, can donate to these 501(c) organizations so long as their money does not go toward influencing elections. But many nonprofit groups like 501(c) organizations do not have to disclose where there money comes from. As these organizations have increased campaign activities, in particular 501 (c)(4) social welfare groups, there is a growing concern that foreign money is sneaking into our elections.
To better ensure foreign contributions are not influencing elections the members’ bill would:
- Include on the annual return filed by tax-exempt organizations and certain applications for tax-exempt status an additional check box for 501(c) groups to declare no foreign donations went to campaign activities.
- Require these organizations to certify on Federal Election Commission filing forms that no foreign funds were used for independent expenditures and political communications.
- Direct the Government Accountability Office to look into corporate campaign activities, and see if foreign funds are being used.
The bill has been endorsed by Campaign Legal Center, Take Back Our Republic, and Issue One.