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New Bill Would Try to Take Foreign Money Out of Politics

A pair of powerful senators have introduced the Preventing Adversaries Internationally from Disbursing Advertising Dollars (PAID AD) Act.

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The bill, backed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), ranking member of the committee overseeing elections, and Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, would amend federal election law to "prevent foreign nationals from purchasing broadcast, cable, satellite, or digital communications naming a candidate for office at any point in time, and prevents foreign governments and foreign lobbyists from buying issue ads."

The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) already prohibits a foreign national from buying electioneering communications, the senators conceded, but they said the definition of “electioneering” is too lose and creates a loophole — one their bill would close.

Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) have introduced companion legislation in the House.

“Russia’s massive and unprecedented interference in our last presidential election revealed a number of vulnerabilities in our election system,” Warner said. “And now that the Kremlin’s playbook is out in the open, we can expect more of the same in 2020, from Russia or elsewhere. We need to get serious about protecting our elections from foreign interference. This bill is just one common-sense measure we should adopt to strengthen our democracy against foreign intervention.” 

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.