March 12, 2019 – A record fine was handed down by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) following an August 2016 complaint by Campaign Legal Center (CLC).
The FEC’s investigation found that the Chinese owned corporation, American Pacific International Capital, Inc. (APIC) and pro-Jeb Bush super PAC “Right to Rise,” both broke the federal law that guards American elections against foreign interference.
CLC’s complaint cites the bombshell report by The Intercept in August 2016 that laid out smoking-gun evidence of the violation: the president of the Chinese-owned, California-based corporation admitted that he directed the corporation’s contributions, which totaled $1.3 million.
APIC was fined $550,000 for violating the foreign national contribution ban, and the pro-Jeb Bush super PAC “Right to Rise” was fined $390,000 for soliciting a foreign national contribution. The fine is biggest FEC fine since Citizens United and third highest fine in history of the FEC.
Throughout history foreign actors have a demonstrated interest in influencing elections. Corporations offer an easy way to for them to do so, usually without detection. If the president of APIC had not admitted that he directed the contribution, the FEC may never have investigated.
Our democracy needs disclosure laws and law enforcement agencies that will enforce those laws to protect the integrity of our democracy.
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The law can’t be enforced against foreign money if the money isn’t disclosed at all. To date we have no way to be sure how many other foreign nationals have funneled money into our elections through undisclosed donations to dark money groups.
The FEC’s action is a rare and remarkable step. It also serves as a reminder that safeguarding our elections against foreign interference is in America’s vital national security interests. The illegal $1.3 million contribution is unmistakable proof that Citizens United opened the floodgates to foreign money in the U.S.
News of the FEC’s historic settlement comes after the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1 Friday, the “For the People Act,” which includes several provisions to strengthen the foreign money ban.