June 27, 2018

DISCLOSE Act Would Close Loopholes That Prevent Enforcement of Foreign Donation Rules

How Long Will Congress Look the Other Way on Election Interference?

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congress can stop foreign nationals from meddling in U.S. elections by passing the newly reintroduced DISCLOSE Act, which would repair loopholes that make existing foreign spending laws hard to enforce – and which Russia exploited to funnel money and interfere in U.S. elections.

“The DISCLOSE Act is needed transparency, plain and simple,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. “It shouldn’t take secret money from foreign nations to prod transparency, but now that we are in just that crisis, the bill deserves a hearing, attention and passage.”

The bill’s commonsense reforms would require any organization that spends more than $10,000 on elections to promptly report its activity and major financial backers, roll back poison pill policy riders that stop agencies like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from finishing rules requiring corporate transparency and prohibit shell companies from hiding a donor’s identity.

Currently, enforcing the ban on foreign donations given directly to candidates – rather than outside groups – is simple. Donors are required to disclose their identities.

However, when it comes to donations given to politically active nonprofits, trade associations or other dark money conduits, those same rules do not apply. Donations to outside groups are hidden completely from public view, and the groups are not required to disclose their donors even if they spend millions. According to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, there is evidence that Russia funneled money to the National Rifle Association (NRA) for just this reason – to support President Donald Trump’s campaign.

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