July 11, 2024

Whitehouse, Raskin Introduce Legislation to Get Foreign Money Out of U.S. Elections, Closing Citizens United Loophole 

Washington, DCU.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) have introduced legislation to close a major loophole in campaign finance law that allows U.S. companies appreciably owned by foreign entities to pour unlimited sums of money into American elections.  

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United v. FEC has enabled corporations to engage in unlimited political spending.  While existing law still prohibits individual foreign nationals from spending in American elections, there is no such prohibition against political spending by American-registered corporations—including major multinationals—that are foreign-owned, foreign-controlled, or foreign-influenced.  The Get Foreign Money Out of U.S. Elections Act uses well-supported foreign ownership thresholds to determine when U.S. corporations should be prohibited from spending from their corporate treasuries to influence voters in our elections.  

“Foreign money can flow into American elections through the same dark money channels that allow unlimited corporate spending, and those dark money openings are significant vulnerabilities for our democracy,” said Whitehouse.  “Our bill will put in place commonsense safeguards to prevent hostile foreign interests from being able to distort American elections with hidden dark money.”  

“Autocrats and oligarchs across the globe have continually tried to control the outcome of U.S. elections, diluting the voices of citizens and undermining American democracy,” said Raskin. “Our legislation closes a glaring loophole opened up by the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision which allows U.S. companies primarily owned by foreign entities to funnel money into our elections. I am grateful to Senator Whitehouse for joining me in this effort to protect our democratic institutions against foreign intervention.”  

According to new polling from Data for Progress, 82 percent of individuals agree that U.S. companies with any foreign ownership should have new limits on contributions to American elections. 

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Peter Welch (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Read what supporters and advocates are saying about the bill here.  

Full text of the bill is available here.

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