Legislation Would Make it Illegal for Foreign Donors to Contribute to Any Ballot Initiative or Referendum
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger — a former CIA case officer, U.S. Representative Jim Banks (R-IN-03), and U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) today reintroduced their Protecting Ballot Measures from Foreign Influence Act.
The bipartisan, bicameral bill 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. Notably, the bill ensures that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) cannot assert authority over those state or local ballot initiatives or referendums.
“Only the American people should have a say in American elections. Yet foreign individuals, companies, and nation states are actively working to influence local and state ballot initiatives — thereby undermining our democracy,” said Spanberger. “I’m proud to once again work with a bipartisan group of legislators to close loopholes in our system that these foreign actors look to exploit. Our legislation would reassert the American people’s full control of local ballot measures.”
“There is no circumstance under which foreign entities should be able to sway the American democratic process. 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.
“Foreign donors should not be able to influence our nation’s democratic process. It is already illegal for foreign nationals to donate to political candidates, parties, and committees. This bipartisan and bicameral bill would extend that commonsense protection to ballot initiatives and other referendums. We must do everything we can to protect every single legal vote of American citizens,” said Rubio.
“This bipartisan bill closes a loophole in U.S. election law that allows foreign nationals to financially contribute to state and local ballot measures. American elections are for American citizens, and Congress has a responsibility to safeguard our elections from foreign influence,” said Banks.
Specifically, the Protecting Ballot Measures from Foreign Influence Act would overturn a July 2021 decision from the FEC. This decision 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.
Spanberger, Warner, Rubio, and Banks first introduced this legislation in December 2021.