Alex Finley of the Center for Public Integrity reports on how foreign money can influence our elections, using Russian electoral influence as an example. As the article notes, the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling created a loophole for foreign interests to spend money in U.S. elections through corporations:
Foreigners can also exert influence through U.S. companies they own or control, including U.S.-registered Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs), which can act as shell companies to disguise the source of their funds and the names of the owners or controllers.
While the law prohibits companies based outside the United States from spending on U.S. elections, foreign-owned companies based in the United States can do so as long as the money comes from their U.S. revenues and a U.S. citizen – not a foreigner – decides where that money goes. But there is no real way to check who is responsible.
Since 2016, Free Speech For People has been working with cities and states on innovative legislation to close this loophole and prohibit political spending by corporations and LLCs that have levels of foreign ownership high enough to indicate that foreign investors can influence corporate decisionmaking.
You can learn about the groundbreaking legislation passed last year in St. Petersburg (Florida), the pending bill in New York City, and our related efforts to challenge foreign influence in our democracy.