Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Demonstrators attend a rally for voting rights

Protesters rally to demand congressional action to protect voting rights on August 28, 2021. (Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

'Complete Attack on Our Democracy': FEC Rules Foreign Corporations Can Donate to Influence US Elections

"Foreign donors shouldn't be influencing our elections, no matter whether it's at the federal, state, or local level, said Rep. Katie Porter.

Andrea Germanos

Democracy defenders expressed concern Tuesday in response to new reporting on a Federal Election Commission ruling that affirmed foreign entities—including overseas corporations—can fund U.S. state-level ballot campaigns.

"This is egregious," tweeted former Ohio congressional candidate Nina Turner. "A complete attack on our democracy."

Axios reported on the FEC's 4-2 July ruling that concerned a Montana ballot initiative on hardrock mining regulations and accusations that a Canadian subsidiary of Australian company Sandfire Resources violated federal campaign law by funding a campaign opposed to the measure.

The FEC rejected the allegations, saying the ban on foreign donations regards "elections," but does not cover ballot initiatives.

The reporting drew the attention of Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), who tweeted: "Foreign donors shouldn't be influencing our elections, no matter whether it's at the federal, state, or local level. In my first term, I successfully amended #HR1, the #ForThePeopleAct, to outlaw these contributions, and I've introduced legislation this year to do the same thing."

Brendan Fischer, Federal reform program director at the Campaign Legal Center, referenced "a big loophole in the federal ban on foreign money in U.S. elections" because "the FEC interprets the law to apply only to races for elective office, letting foreign interests pour millions into state or local ballot measure campaigns."

Fischer pointed to the proposed elections and voting reform-related Freedom to Vote Act as a way to close that loophole—a legislative fix also called for by Democracy 21 president Fred Wertheimer.

Wertheimer said the last thing the American people want is foreign countries "being able to spend money on their own propaganda to influence important policy decisions being made by the voters in a state," Wertheimer said in a statement.

“Fortunately," he continued, "the sponsors of the For the People Act in the House and its successor in the Senate—the Senator Manchin compromise Freedom to Vote Act—foresaw the potential danger of this foreign intervention occurring and the legislation would prevent it."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Biden's Oily Christmas': Climate Campaigners Call Out Public Lands Giveaways

"His Interior Department has plowed forward with new oil and gas lease sales that wreck our public lands and exacerbate climate change—all while enriching the CEOs of big oil corporations."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Global Empire of the US Christian Right': Dark Money Fuels Attacks on Abortion Rights Worldwide

The findings of a new investigation, said one observer, "further demonstrate the growing trend of religious extremists forging cross-border alliances" to gut abortion rights.

Jake Johnson ·


Public Health Experts Slam 'Grossly Inadequate,' Industry-Friendly Covid Test Reimbursement Scheme

"We need this administration to be courageous," said one physician. "This is not it at all."

Julia Conley ·


Progressive Lawmakers to Biden: 'Cancel Student Loan Debt.' All of It. Now.

"Student loan payments resume in 61 days. Borrowers are NOT ready or able to restart them," said Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

Andrea Germanos ·


'Unconscionable': Missouri Accused of Burying Analysis Showing Mask Mandates Save Lives

The findings were only made available this week due to a public records request by a local independent news outlet and the Documenting Covid-19 Project.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo