Defend Our Democracy ordinance means limiting big money and foreign influence in elections can start right in St. Petersburg

Federal Election Commissioner Ellen Weintraub penned an op-ed today to the Tampa Bay Times, on our proposed ordinance in St. Petersburg to abolish super PACs and limit foreign influence in local elections. The commissioner writes,

“In a nutshell: Citizens United blew open the floodgates to allow corporations to spend unlimited sums in our elections. But ironclad federal law prohibits foreign nationals from directly or indirectly spending in our elections at any level. So it’s still illegal for foreign nationals to contribute through any sort of corporation. But when a corporation spends in politics, no one is asking, “Does any of your money come from foreign nationals?”

Under the Defend Our Democracy ordinance, St. Petersburg will begin to ask corporations that question. Any corporation that wants to spend money to influence St. Petersburg elections must certify that it is not “foreign-influenced,” that is, either (1) more than 5 percent owned by a single foreign national, (2) more than 20 percent owned by more than one foreign national, or (3) a corporation in which foreign-national owners call the shots on its political activities.

This is a simple, common-sense requirement, one fully backed up by federal law. It is the kind of reform that is only happening at the local level in the current political climate. It is the kind of disclosure that has been upheld in court over and over again. It is the kind of law that will protect the citizens of St. Petersburg and bolster their faith in their elections.”

A Committee of the Whole will vote on our proposed ordinance this Thursday, June 22 at the St. Petersburg City Hall.
Read the commissioner’s article here.