Wisconsin Rep. Gallagher Introduces Legislation to Ban Foreign Donors from Contributing to U.S. Ballot Initiatives


Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08) introduced bipartisan legislation to ban foreign money from influencing United States elections. Gallagher announced his bill after the Federal Election Commission decided to allow foreign donors to contribute to U.S. ballot initiatives.

Gallagher set in motion the proposed legislation with Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL-07), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-03), Dean Phillips (D-MN-03), and Jared Golden (D-ME-02).

Axios reported, “The Federal Election Commission has ruled foreign donors can finance U.S. referendum campaigns, opening the door to foreign spending on fights over high-profile policy issues.”

Axios explained this is important because this opens a door for foreign influence in United States elections, even though foreign nationals are prohibited from donating to political candidates or committees. Axios reported, “Foreign nationals are barred from donating to U.S. political candidates or committees. But the FEC’s decision — allowing them to support ballot committees — provides another avenue for foreigners to directly influence U.S. voters and domestic policy.”

In a vote that took place in July, the FEC decided that “elections” do not include “ballot initiatives” under existing federal law, and “therefore the foreign donation prohibition doesn’t apply.” The decision made by the FEC is only related to federal laws, states themselves can vote to ban that sort of foreign interference in elections.

“The FEC is further opening the floodgates to foreign money to come into our political process by making it legal for foreign money to fund ballot referenda, which may include things like congressional redistricting … This is shortsighted and dangerous. If you open this little crack, I can guarantee you that the Chinese Communist Party is going to take advantage of it,” Gallagher said in a video statement regarding the FEC decision.

Gallagher went on to say he believes Wisconsin should pass state legislation to prohibit foreign interference in their elections. Gallagher said, “We do not want foreign money flooding into our political system, so the FEC should reverse this decision. But failing that we need states to outlaw. There’s 7 states that have already outlawed this, but Wisconsin is not one of those states. I think it would make a ton of sense for the legislature in Wisconsin to pass a law outlawing foreign money from influencing our process at the state level.”

Representative Gallagher said that the decision by the FEC is “shortsighted” and “dangerous” and that his legislation would “protect our democracy.”

Gallagher said, “Opening the door for the Chinese Communist Party to influence our democratic process threatens both our elections and our national security. Congress must immediately pass this important legislation to protect our democracy from malign foreign interference or we will come to regret it.”

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Hayley Feland is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun and The Wisconsin Daily Star | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to [email protected]





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