Blumenthal, Leahy And Others File ‘Duty To Report’ Amendment To Defense Bill, To Protect Elections From Foreign Interference

. . . Would Require Federal Campaigns To Report Offers Of Help From Foreign Governments

Leahy: ‘Americans running for office shouldn’t have to be told to report offers of foreign
assistance in our elections. But sadly, President Trump does.’

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, June 20, 2019) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and 12 other senators, have filed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to help protect U.S. elections from foreign interference by requiring candidates, campaign officials, and their family members to notify law enforcement if offered assistance by agents of a foreign government. The amendment is based on the bicameral Duty to Report Act that Senator Blumenthal introduced in April with Representative Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). The bill is expected to reach the Senate Floor for debate next week.

Other amendment cosponsors are Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

Leahy said: “Americans running for political office shouldn’t have to be told to report offers of foreign assistance in American elections. But sadly, President Trump does. With nearly every comment or tweet, dismissing the seriousness of foreign interference, he shows just how critical this legislation is.”

Blumenthal said: “Election security is national security. The NDAA is exactly the right piece of legislation to include our provision requiring campaigns, candidates, and family members to immediately report to the FBI and Federal Election Commission any offers of illegal foreign assistance. Accepting such foreign assistance is already illegal. Soliciting such assistance is already illegal. I assumed that any moral, patriotic American would report these kinds of acts – but apparently I was wrong. So now all we are doing is turning what is already common sense – if a campaign gets an offer of help from a foreign government, which is illegal – they must report it to the FBI.”

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 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 – 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.

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