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The American Elections Act

Sen. Al Franken

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court struck down a 60 year-old law and reversed two of its own decisions to allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on American elections.  This decision effectively nullifies 24 states’ campaign laws.  It also opens a door for foreign governments to interfere with American democracy.

Since 1974, federal law has banned foreign companies from giving or spending in American elections.  Nothing in our current laws, however, explicitly prohibits foreign companies from creating American subsidiaries or getting control of American companies—and using them to flood the airwaves in support of their preferred candidates.  Citizens United gives companies unlimited power to do that—unfortunately, it does not distinguish between American companies and companies that are owned or controlled by foreign interests.

The American Elections Act of 2010 will keep foreign interests out of our elections by:

• Banning election contributions and spending by corporations who are controlled or highly influenced by foreign nationals (foreign governments, companies, and persons).  This includes:

• Corporations that receive most of their financing from foreign nationals.

• Corporations where foreign nationals hold a controlling share of stock (as defined under leading corporate law) or a majority of the Board of Directors.

• Corporations that allow foreign nationals to control or participate in their political activities—including ad spending, donations, and political action committees. 

• Requiring all corporations to certify, before giving or spending in elections, that they are in compliance with these requirements.

• Requiring all companies to disclose in their political advertising how much of their company is controlled by foreign nationals, or if this isn’t possible, how much of their financing comes from foreign nationals.

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