June 20, 2019

Wyden Acts to Protect Elections from Foreign Interference

Oregon senator files amendment that would require federal campaigns to report offers of assistance from foreign governments

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today co-sponsored legislation that would help protect U.S. elections from foreign interference by requiring candidates, campaign officials and their family members to notify law enforcement if offered illegal assistance by a foreign national.

“It shouldn’t take a law for candidates to know they need to tell the FBI when foreigners try to illegally influence our elections,” Wyden said. “But now that this administration has thrown every commonsense ethical standard out the window, it’s time to put it into black-letter law.”

The legislation is in a proposed amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The amendment would impose a legal duty on campaigns, candidates, candidates’ family members, and PACs to report offers of assistance from foreign nationals, including material, non-public information, to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and directly to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The legislation also would require disclosure of any meetings between candidates or campaign officials and agents of foreign governments, other than those held in a candidate’s official capacity as an elected official.

Under current law, it is illegal for any foreign national, country, or entity to provide anything of value to a campaign or make an expenditure to influence a U.S. election. It is also illegal for a U.S. citizen to solicit or accept such assistance. However, there is no legal requirement for Americans to report offers of such illegal assistance.

Other co-sponsors of the amendment filed by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Chris Murphy (D-CT).