Today, the Minnesota federal district court granted the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s motion to temporarily block a groundbreaking 2023 law that prevents foreign-influenced corporate spending in Minnesota elections. The ruling, which is only temporary, will stop this important law from going into effect while the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s legal challenge is pending in court, but is not a final determination. Free Speech For People will continue to support Minnesota as it defends the law so that the state can protect its elections and preserve its democratic self-government.

This legislation, signed into law by the Minnesota Governor in May 2023 as part of Minnesota’s Democracy for the People Act, was set to go into effect on January 1, 2024. It makes it illegal for a company at a certain threshold of ownership by foreign entities outside the United States to spend money on Minnesota elections either directly (through contributions to candidates or independent expenditures) or indirectly (through contributions to super PACs). Federal law currently prohibits any spending by foreign governments, individuals, or entities on U.S. elections. The Supreme Court has upheld this law, but a loophole now allows a corporation registered in the United States with significant foreign ownership to spend money on federal, state, and local elections. Minnesota’s law, once it is allowed to go into effect, will close this gap for its own elections.

The Chamber of Commerce sued, and asked the court to block the law even before the state had an opportunity to defend it at trial. While it is disappointing that the Chamber’s request has been granted, the law has not been struck down. The preliminary injunction simply preserves the status quo pending a full trial on the merits. After full merits proceedings, including testimony from experts on corporate governance, we expect the court to uphold the constitutionality of the foreign-influenced corporation provision.

Free Speech For People, on behalf of Clean Elections Minnesota and in conjunction with Minneapolis-based Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P., filed an amicus brief in support of Minnesota.

Similar legislation has been in effect in Seattle since January 2020, and a modified version just passed in Maine as a ballot initiative winning 86% of the vote. The Seattle law has not been challenged in court. The Maine law is currently in litigation. Free Speech For People will continue to support local and state governments in defending these important laws and their ability to protect their elections, electorate, and democratic self-government.

Read the order and opinion here.