Sending Office: Honorable Eric Swalwell
Stop Foreign Interference in Our Elections:
Cosponsor H.R. 2424, the Duty to Report Act and
H.R. 2853, the Corporate Duty to Report Act
May 23, 2019
I ask that you join me as a cosponsor of H.R. 2424, the Duty to Report Act, and H.R. 2853, the
Corporate Duty to Report Act, to stop foreign interference in our domestic elections.
We know that Russians and the Russian government sought to and did, in fact, act to affect the 2016 election. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report called the Russian government’s election attack “sweeping and systemic.”
One of the elements of this campaign was digital ads. For example, accounts linked to the Russian government’s Internet Research Agency bought about 3,500 advertisements on political or public policy topics across Facebook and Instagram and they were seen
by more than 10 million people.
Individual Russian nationals also seemed very willing to help the Trump Campaign. For example, Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner met with a Russian national purportedly connected with the government offering the Trump Campaign secret “dirt”
on Hilary Clinton at the now infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
While it is illegal for foreign nationals and governments to provide or use things of value to influence U.S. elections, the events of the 2016 campaign show current law is not enough. I have introduced two bills to close vulnerabilities to our electoral
process that Russia exposed in 2016:
- H.R. 2424, the Duty to Report Act, would make it unlawful for campaigns for any office, as well as the candidates, their immediately family members, and campaign staff, to fail to report offers of assistance (includes opposition research) from
foreign nationals (includes persons and entities) to the FBI. It also would be unlawful for federal campaigns or candidates to fail to report information on meetings (other than those held in an official capacity) with foreign countries or their agents and
offers of assistance from foreign nationals or entities to the FEC. A companion to this bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Richard Blumenthal, and it has been endorsed by Public Citizen as well as Protect Democracy.
- H.R. 2853, the Corporate Duty to Report Act, would make it crime for a corporation to knowingly receive funds for an independent expenditure or electioneering communication from a foreign national without reporting this to the FBI. There would
be affirmative defense if the entity relied in good faith on an affirmation from the maker of the disbursement that it was not a foreign national or the communication was not covered by the law. It also would be a civil violation for a corporation which knowingly
receives money to run a political communication to fail to ask if the communication counts as an independent expenditure or electioneering and, if it is, if the person making the disbursement is a foreign national.
Taken together, these bills would help protect our democracy by imposing a duty on corporations and citizens to report when a foreign actor is attempting to subvert our elections. It is incumbent on us to learn the lessons of 2016 so that we can reduce
the likelihood such an attack can ever happen again. If you would like to cosponsor either H.R. 2424 or H.R. 2853, or if you have any questions, please contact Andrew Ginsburg at
Member of Congress
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0