Legislation introduced by House Democrats aims to close loopholes on foreign spending in the U.S. political campaigns to curb election interference.
In addition to addressing campaign finance loopholes, the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act, introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., chairperson of the Committee on House Administration, includes a duty to report any illicit offers by foreign governments and their agents to assist campaigns and bolsters the transparency of online political ads.
The legislation also puts restrictions on the information that candidates and foreign entities can share and bans deceptive practices in regard to voting procedures.
Alleging that “the Trump campaign and White House have welcomed and repeatedly solicited foreign assistance for his political activities,” Lofgren called the behavior “unacceptable” and said in a statement that the SHIELD Act will ensure “that individuals engaging in conduct with foreign actors intending to influence the outcome of our elections will be held accountable by law.”
Foreign interference in elections grabbed the spotlight in the 2016 presidential campaign when Russia sought to influence the outcome by smearing Hillary Clinton and bolster Trump. Reports from the intelligence community, lawmakers and social media firms make clear that foreign bad actors have already geared up for 2020. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., chairman of the Democracy Reform Task Force and a sponsor of the SHIELD Act, called on Senate Republicans and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to quickly take up the SHIELD Act and other critical national security bills such as the For the People Act and the SAFE Act. “There’s no time to waste,” he said.