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BREAKING: Record Fines Imposed Totaling $940,000 for Foreign Interference in Presidential Election by Chinese Corporation
DATE MARCH 11, 2019ISSUESCAMPAIGN FINANCE
Biggest FEC fine since Citizens United and third highest fine in history of Federal Election Commission
WASHINGTON – A record fine was handed down by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) following an August 2016 complaint by Campaign Legal Center (CLC), concluding an investigation that found a Chinese-owned corporation and pro-Jeb Bush super PAC both broke the federal law that guards American elections against foreign interference.
American Pacific International Capital, Inc. (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. 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.
“Today’s action is a rare and remarkable step by the FEC, and a reminder that safeguarding our elections against foreign interference is in America’s vital national security interests,” said Trevor Potter, president of CLC, and a former Republican Chairman of the FEC. “This illegal $1.3 million contribution is unmistakable proof that Citizens United opened the floodgates to foreign money in the U.S., and it is surely the tip of the iceberg. The fact that the FEC, which so often deadlocks and therefore fails to act in violations, could agree on this one highlights the very real danger this sort of activity poses to our democracy.”
“Foreign actors have a demonstrated interest in influencing elections, and corporations offer an easy way to for them to do so, usually without detection,” said Brendan Fischer, director, federal reform at CLC. “In this case, it took smoking-gun evidence to establish this violation: if the president of the company had not admitted that he directed the contribution, the FEC never would have investigated it. Moreover, we can’t be sure how many other foreign nationals have funneled money into our elections through undisclosed donations to dark money groups. Law enforcement agencies need disclosure to enforce the laws protecting the integrity of our democracy. The law can’t be enforced against foreign money if the money isn’t disclosed at all.”
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.
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