Last Wednesday, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) introduced bipartisan legislation—the Stop Foreign Funds in Elections Act—to prohibit foreign contributions in elections. Specifically, the bill would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act to ban contributions and donations made by foreign nationals in state and local ballot initiatives and referenda. Currently, the FEC has interpreted the Federal Election Campaign Act to only prohibit foreign contributions and donations made in candidate elections, but not ballot initiatives and referendums.

Joining Herrera Beutler in introducing the legislation were U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Mike Gallagher (WI-08), Dean Phillips (MN-03), and Jared Golden (ME-02).

“The Federal Election Commission’s recent decision to allow foreign nationals to influence U.S. elections cannot stand, and I’m helping lead bipartisan legislation to reverse the ruling that greenlit foreign contributions to ballot initiatives and referenda,” Herrera Beutler said. “Congress should act quickly here to ensure that the only voices in our elections are those of American citizens.”

“Allowing foreign contributions to ballot initiatives and referenda poses a direct threat to our nation’s democratic process,” Fitzpatrick said. “Our bipartisan legislation will put a stop to this illicit practice and ensure that state and local elections are free from foreign influence and decided solely by American voters.” 

“Florida has a rich history of using ballot initiatives to amend our state’s constitution, and this important democratic process should be conducted free of any and all interference from foreign nationals,” Murphy said. “I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan bill to prohibit financial contributions and donations made by foreign nationals to influence the outcome of state and local ballot initiatives.”

“This FEC decision is shortsighted and dangerous,” Gallagher said. “Opening the door for the Chinese Communist Party to influence our democratic process threatens both our elections and our national security. Congress must immediately pass this important legislation to protect our democracy from malign foreign interference or we will come to regret it.”

“Restoring faith in our democracy means ensuring that the American electorate—not foreign nationals—are empowered to affect change in this country,” Phillips said. “It is absurd that foreign interference in our elections would even be in question, let alone affirmed by members of the Federal Election Commission. As our democracy faces threats from the inside and out, Congress must act urgently to close this dangerous loophole.”

“This is simple. American elections—from dogcatcher to ballot questions to the presidency—should be decided by Americans, not foreign citizens or foreign corporations,” Golden said. “We’ve made it illegal for political candidates to accept foreign campaign contributions and we shouldn’t let foreign money pour into ballot question campaigns either. I’m proud to help lead this bipartisan effort to get foreign money out of our elections.”