Amid concerns that Russia helped sway the 2016 presidential election, several states are considering legislation that would bar companies with significant foreign ties from contributing money in state campaigns. A long-standing federal statute bars noncitizens and foreign companies from donating directly to candidates or political parties at the federal, state and local levels. Another law prohibits businesses from directly donating to federal-level candidates or political parties. But the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case cleared the way for corporations and unions to pay for political ads made independently of candidates’ campaigns. The high court ruled that corporations and unions are associations of U.S. citizens with a First Amendment right to political expression.
Hoping to take the decision a step further, proponents of bills under consideration in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Washington state would bar political spending by businesses in which non-U.S. citizens have a significant ownership stake.
“If a company is owned and controlled by foreign nationals, then I think we really have to take a hard look at how that is consistent with the existing law on the books that says foreign nationals aren’t allowed to spend money in our elections,” said Federal Election Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, who has been testifying in support of the idea at the state level after the FEC deadlocked on a similar proposal.
Full Article: Lawmakers Look to Curb Foreign Influence in State Elections.