DFL Sen. Al Franken announced today that he introduced legislation to change campaign finance laws. He's making the announcement one week after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums of money to buy ads supporting or opposing political candidates. Franken has introduced legislation that aims to keep foreign interests out of elections. Here's part of the news release:
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 - and does not distinguish between American companies and companies that are owned or controlled by foreign interests.
"I was pleased to hear the President recognize the need for this bill in his address last night," said Sen. Franken. "I think we can all agree that foreign interests have no place in American elections."
The "American Elections Act of 2010" was developed in coordination with Professor David Schultz of Hamline University School of Business in Minnesota.
"The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United was an attack on democracy and fair elections," said Professor Schultz. "It undid laws seeking to regulate corporations across the country and in Minnesota that go back over 60 years. As a result of it corporate money will flood into Minnesota, threatening the basic integrity of our elections and the power of citizens to control their own government. Senator Franken's bill is an important first step in addressing Citizens United and preventing money from further destroying our elections in Minnesota."
The "American Elections Act of 2010" will keep foreign interests out of our elections by:
· Banning election contributions and spending by corporations that 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 corporations 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.
The "American Elections Act of 2010" is supported by Common Cause, People for the American Way, Common Cause Minnesota, and MPIRG.
Amy Klobuchar spent about 10-12Million $ to get elected to the US Senate. If Saudi Arabia spent 10 times that amount to buy a candidate, and competed in a similar way for all 100 Senate seats, that would be about 10Billion $ to *own* every member of the Senate. Assume the same amount to buy the House of Representatives, and the same for the presidency. That would represent about 2 weeks of oil revenues... Think that Saudi Arabia would want to own the entire US government for just 2 weeks of revenue? China, or Russia, could do the same thing.
The Supreme Court decision was monumentally stupid.
Franken's bill, and something stronger yet, is hugely necessary. Personally, I would favor allowing only personal contributions to candidates, and strict spending limits, but Franken's bill is worth doing nonetheless.