Assemblymember Alex Lee has re-introduced last year’s bill to Stop Foreign Influence in Elections. Now numbered AB83 (formerly AB1819).
This bill seeks to prohibit foreign influenced corporations from contributing to candidates, parties, or committees or from engaging in their own direct election spending. You may be wondering—how is that even a thing? Doesn’t existing federal law and our State’s Political Reform Act of 1974 take care of that? Kind of.
There is a loophole. The current statute applies to foreign-incorporated corporations. A foreign investor (like, for example, a foreign government-owned oil wealth fund) may own a significant interest in a corporation that is organized under U.S. laws and has the U.S. as its principal place of business. Such a foreign-influenced corporation can spend millions to influence our elections. In the recent elections, we saw how corporations can write their own self-serving legislation and get it passed through the initiative process. Remember Proposition 22?
AB83 will close the loophole for California elections. It is supported by good government groups like Money Out Voters In (MOVI).
The bill is currently in the Assembly Elections Committee where our AD55 Assembly Member Isaac Bryan is the chair. At our March 8, 2022 meeting, members will be asked to vote to authorize the Corresponding Secretary to send him a letter along the lines of the sample letter presented on this page.: