HARRISBURG, PA (July 1, 2024)—Today, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed HB2433 with bipartisan support. The bill bans foreign-influenced corporations from spending money to influence state and local elections. If passed by the State Senate and signed into law, this bill would close a significant loophole to preserve American self-government and to strengthen democracy in Pennsylvania. MarchOnHarrisburg, a Pennsylvania anti-corruption organization, Free Speech For People, a national non-partisan non-profit organization that works to defend our democracy across the country, and Pennsylvania State Representative Joe Webster, the legislative champion sponsoring this bill in the Pennsylvania House are working to advance this legislation in Pennsylvania.

The legislation would bar corporations with significant foreign ownership from making political expenditures in Pennsylvania elections. 

Across the country, companies with significant foreign ownership, like Amazon, Shell, Aqua, and Uber, have used their money to influence the outcome of elections and political agendas in their favor. The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United created a loophole for foreign interests to acquire stakes in U.S. corporations and then use that leverage to influence or control the corporation’s political activity, including campaign contributions, contributions to super PACs, and independent expenditures.

Multinational corporations affected by HB2433 are those owned 1% or more by one foreign investor or 5% or more by multiple foreign investors. These thresholds reflect levels of ownership that are widely agreed (including by entities such as the Securities and Exchange Commission) to be high enough to influence corporate governance.

The policy grows from model legislation developed by Free Speech For People. Free Speech For People helped to pass similar legislation in Minnesota in 2023, San Jose, California in 2024, and Seattle, Washington in 2020. Additional bills are under consideration in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington State, as well as in the U.S. Congress. Representative Jamie Raskin has introduced the Get Foreign Money Out of U.S. Elections Act, which is a federal companion bill to HB2433.

MarchOnHarrisburg, which led the effort to pass HB2433 through the Pennsylvania House, has been building the PA pro-democracy movement for seven years to get money out of politics and to build a government of, by, and for the people. The organization has conducted thousands of community lobbying visits, four multi-day marches across the state, and over 40 nonviolent direct actions at the State Capitol Building to pressure the Pennsylvania State Legislature to pass a Gift Ban, Campaign Finance Reform, an FIC Political Spending Ban, Ranked Choice Voting, and the rest of their Money Out, People In 23-point policy platform.

“This is a bold reform in the fight to put democracy back in the hands of the people where it belongs,” says Alexandra Flores-Quilty, Campaign Director at Free Speech For People. “We applaud the Pennsylvania House for passing this critical legislation. We urge the Pennsylvania Senate to follow suit and to protect the integrity of elections by keeping foreign investors out.”

“This is a revolutionary step forward for Pennsylvania that closes off a major threat to American self-government: foreign-influenced corporate political spending,” says Rabbi Michael Pollack, Executive Director of MarchOnHarrisburg. “Big multinational corporations are committed to doing what’s right for themselves and their investors, not for Pennsylvanians. HB 2433 passed because of the amazing work done by the pro-democracy movement and courageous legislators to pressure our State Legislature into putting our elections back into the hands of the people.”

“Good government and ethical practices are consistent themes in the legislation I have introduced and supported since I first took office,” says Representative Webster, the legislative champion sponsoring this bill in the Pennsylvania House. “I’m pleased that the House voted to pass this bill. Preventing foreign influence in Pennsylvania’s elections preserves the commonwealth’s ability to self-govern and ensures that the only influences on Pennsylvania’s elections are Pennsylvania’s voters.”