BY: Citizens Count
Next week the New Hampshire Senate will vote on a bill to ban foreign nationals from spending any money to influence voters.
Foreign spending influencing elections?
Federal law prohibits non-citizens and foreign companies from donating directly to candidates. However, foreign nationals can spend money on ads for or against a candidate, so long as those ads are unaffiliated with a candidate’s official campaign.
Recent controversy over possible ties between Russia and the 2016 election have drawn attention to this issue.
The proposed New Hampshire bill, SB 363, would make it illegal for foreign nationals to spend any money to influence voters - that includes forming any Political Action Committees (PACs), including Super PACs. “Foreign national” is defined as any person without permanent legal status and any exclusively foreign-owned companies.
A foreign national could potentially skirt the law, for example by forming a LLC with a U.S. citizen in New Hampshire, since the LLC would not be exclusively foreign-owned.
Guard against foreign influence?
Bill supporters argue that non-citizens and companies without American owners have interests beyond the well-being of New Hampshire, so they are more likely to try to influence voters in a way that is contrary to the state’s best interest.
Foreign nationals also do not have the right to influence elections because they do not have the same constitutional rights as citizens.
Discriminating against foreign-owned companies?
Opponents of SB 363 argue that in today’s global economy, many foreign-owned companies have interests in New Hampshire. It is unjust—and potentially bad for New Hampshire’s economy—to exclude these companies from the governing process.
On the other end of the spectrum, some argue that SB 363 should also cover companies that are partly-owned by foreigners.
Do you think NH should prohibit foreign nationals from spending any money to influence voters? Let us know in the comments below.