WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Armed Services Committee, cosponsored an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to help protect our 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.
The NDAA is being debated on the Senate floor.
“Protecting our elections from foreign interference is essential to defending the very foundation of American democracy,” Heinrich said. “President Trump’s blatant disregard for this critical duty means that Congress must pass legislation making it crystal clear that it is unacceptable to take information about electoral opponents from foreign governments and that a failure to report contact with foreign governments about election interference is a federal crime.”
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. This amendment – like the Duty to Report Act on which it is based – will safeguard our democracy from foreign interference and ensure that U.S. persons are held accountable for welcoming malign assistance from foreign governments attempting to influence our democratic processes.