Representative Malinowski Fights to Protect our Election System from Foreign Interference
(Washington DC) Today, Congressman Tom Malinowski introduced the Anti-Collusion Act, which will help insulate future elections in the United States from foreign interference. The Mueller Report clearly showed that Russia made multiple, systemic efforts to influence the 2016 election. It also documented actions by individuals associated with the Trump campaign that, while not necessarily illegal, raised significant issues of ethics and propriety. This Act draws from the lessons of the report to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act in two ways.
First, it defines offering non-public campaign materials, such as internal polling data, to a foreign power, or agent of a foreign power, as a solicitation of support, which is illegal under federal election law. This responds to the finding in the Mueller Report that Paul Manafort shared Trump campaign polling data with a person associated with Russian intelligence, with the expectation that it would be shared with Putin-linked oligarch Oleg Deripaksa. Currently, political candidates in the United States are restricted in sharing non-public polling and campaign strategy information with independent expenditure groups, such as Super PACs, but no federal law clearly bars sharing such information with a foreign power, which might then use it to conduct influence operations in the U.S.
Second, it requires political campaigns to file suspicious activity reports with the Department of Justice if they receive any offer of assistance from a foreign power, or agent of a foreign power, or any offer of assistance from a domestic entity that involves illegal activity, such as hacking. This would be modeled after current law requiring banks to file suspicious activity reports (SARS) with the government if they see transactions that give rise to suspicions of unlawful activity. Had this provision been law in 2016, the Trump campaign would have been required to report the request from Russian individuals to share damaging information about the Clinton campaign prior to the June meeting in Trump Tower described in the Mueller Report.
“Whether we’re for or against impeachment, we ought to agree that foreign interference in our elections is wrong and that there were things that happened in 2016 that should not happen again,” Congressman Malinowski said. “If as candidates for office we can’t share something with the Sierra Club, we shouldn’t be able to share it with Putin. And if a foreign government offers to help us win an election, we should report that offer, not exploit it.”