- Fighting political spending by foreign-influenced corporations
- Enforcing federal campaign finance law against foreign political spending
- Advocating for disclosure of funders of Internet political ads
- Other advocacy
- Stay updated on Free Speech For People’s work to Challenge foreign influence in our Democracy!
Free Speech For People has demonstrated critical leadership in the fight against foreign influence in our democracy. Here’s a roadmap to some of our key work.
Fighting political spending by foreign-influenced corporations
Free Speech For People has researched, drafted, and fought for state and local legislation to fight political spending by foreign-influenced corporations.
- St. Petersburg, Florida (enacted November 2017)
- Massachusetts (currently pending)
- Connecticut (reported favorably from committee)
- Boston Globe, How Massachusetts can fight foreign influence in our elections (Sept. 26, 2017)
- The Hill, Local leaders turning up the heat on Citizens United (Oct. 27, 2016)
- Boston Globe, Get foreign political money out of U.S. elections (June 22, 2016)
In the news
- Tampa Bay Reporter, St. Pete council limits outside money in city elections (Oct. 5, 2017)
- Mass Live, Advocates try to prevent foreign meddling in Massachusetts elections (Sept. 27, 2017)
- Tampa Bay Times, Defend Our Democracy ordinance means limiting big money and foreign influence in elections can start right in St. Petersburg (June 20, 2017)
- WMNF Radio, How St. Pete could plat a role in overturning Citizens United (Oct. 27, 2016)
- The Weekly Challenger, St. Pete, let’s take a bite out of Citizens United (Sept. 16, 2016)
- Quantifying Foreign Institutional Block Ownership at Publicly Traded U.S. Corporations (Free Speech For People Issue Report 2016-01; Harvard Law School John M. Olin Center Discussion Paper No. 888) (October 2016) (also available on SSRN)
- FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, Letter of Support
- Harvard Law Professor John C. Coates, Letter of Support & Report
- Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, Letter of Support
- Harvard Law Professor Charles Fried, Letter of Support
Enforcing federal campaign finance law against foreign political spending
FSFP v. government of Russia and Trump campaign
In December 2016, Free Speech For People, with our partner the Campaign for Accountability, filed the first complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Russian activity in the 2016 presidential election, and potential Trump campaign coordination, violated the Federal Election Campaign Act.
- Original complaint (December 2016)
- First amended complaint (May 2017)
- June 2017 amendment to the complaint
- Russian government influence and potential Trump campaign coordination in the 2016 election (Free Speech For People Special Report 2017-01, May 3, 2017)
- Newsweek (May 6, 2017) (with Julian Schreibman)
- US News & World Report (Jan. 11, 2018)
In the news
- Washington Post, Did Facebook ads traced to a Russian company violate U.S. election law? (Sept. 7, 2017)
- American Prospect, The simple case against Trump (June 8, 2017)
- Politico, FEC member urges escalated Trump-Russia inquiry (May 23, 2017)
fsfp v. citgo and trump inaugural commitee
In April 2017, Free Speech For People filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the oil company Citgo, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company that owns and controls Citgo, and President Trump’s inaugural committee. The complaint alleges that the companies and the inaugural committee violated a federal ban on donations to inaugural committees by foreign nationals.
Advocating for disclosure of funders of Internet political ads
We now know that Internet political advertisements were in some cases paid for by foreign entities. Free Speech For People has pressed the Federal Election Commission to adopt rules requiring political advertisements on Internet media, such as Facebook, to include disclaimers listing their funders, as are already required for ads in other media.
- Comment letter to FEC (with Public Citizen) (Nov. 1, 2017)
- Statement after favorable FEC vote to begin rulemaking (Nov. 17, 2017)
- Joint letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan urging congressional action to help prevent foreign interests from intervening in future elections (Feb. 8, 2018)