Spanberger, Warner Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Ballot Measures from Foreign Influence

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), a Member of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, and U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, teamed up with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) to introduce bipartisan legislation that would make it unlawful for a foreign national to contribute money, either directly or indirectly, to a state or local ballot initiative or ballot referendum.

The Protecting Ballot Measures from Foreign Influence Act would overturn a July decision from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which gave a green light to foreign nationals seeking to finance campaign efforts related to ballot initiatives after ruling that a federal law banning foreign money in campaigns applies only to federal, state and local candidate elections.

“American elections should remain American elections. Local and state ballot initiatives here in the United States should be focused on the concerns of a community — not the interests of a foreign individual, company, or nation,” said Spanberger. “The current loophole that allows foreign entities to influence these initiatives should be closed immediately, and I am proud to work with a bipartisan group of legislators in both the Senate and the House to make that happen. The Protecting Ballot Measures from Foreign Influence Act would reassert the American people’s rightful control of their local ballot measures, and I am proud to work with Senator Warner, Senator Rubio, and Congressman Banks on this critical effort.”

“The Protecting Ballot Measures from Foreign Influence Act further safeguards our elections from foreign interference by making it illegal for foreign donors to contribute to any ballot initiative or referendum,” said Warner. “There is no circumstance under which foreign entities should be able to sway the American democratic process and this legislation works to ensure that.” 

“Foreign donors should not be able to influence America’s democratic process,” said Rubio. “It is already illegal for foreign nationals to donate to political candidates, parties, and committees. The Protecting Ballot Measures from Foreign Influence Act will extend that commonsense protection of our political process to ballot initiatives and other referendums. We must do everything we can to protect the votes of American citizens.”

“The FEC’s decision to let foreign actors directly influence U.S. policy fights undermines our democracy,” said Banks. “That’s why I’ve joined Sens. Rubio and Warner and Rep. Spanberger to overturn it and ensure Americans voices are heard.”

A copy of the bill is available here.

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