Hagerty, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Prohibit Foreign Nationals From Funding American Elections

April 17, 2024

Bill would close loopholes being exploited by foreign nationals to quietly spend hundreds of millions to exert partisan influence on American elections, including through ballot harvesting, GOTV efforts, and state ballot measures

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Rules Committee, today led his colleagues in introducing the Preventing Foreign Interference in American Elections Act,legislation to prevent foreign nationals from improperly influencing American elections.

The enormous efforts of a foreign billionaire named Hansjorg Wyss to influence American elections—often indirectly through a web of intermediaries and with a stated goal of “interpret[ing] the American Constitution in the light of progressive politics”—illustrate the need to modernize and close loopholes in the current ban on foreign-national involvement in American elections.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Ted Budd (R-NC), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Roger Marshall (R-KS).

“After years of hysteria over Russiagate and alleged foreign influence in American elections, it turns out Democrats have recently benefited from hundreds of millions of dollars in election-related contributions from a shadowy foreign billionaire, sidestepping the federal ban on foreign-national contributions in U.S. elections,” said Senator Hagerty. “This type of influence undermines democracy and self-government here in America, and its staggering scope should be alarming. I’m pleased to introduce this commonsense and critical legislation that will put an end to covert foreign influence on our elections and protect Americans’ voice in electing their leaders.”

“Americans deserve to participate in elections that are free from foreign influence,” said Senator Blackburn. “We must ensure that foreign entities or adversaries are not able to interfere in American elections by funneling money and ballot harvesting through shadow networks. Foreign interference in the country’s elections process threatens the democracy at the heart of our nation.”

“Restoring institutional trust in our elections is one of the most important issues we face, and stopping foreign influence is a significant concern,” said Senator Budd. “Foreign nationals should not be allowed to improperly tip the scales in U.S. elections in any way, and I’m glad to join Senator Hagerty’s legislation to stop it.”

“American elections are not for sale to foreign interests,” said Senator Cruz. “In 2022-23 alone, one foreign billionaire flooded over $63 million to thirteen hard-left groups. This corruption should be illegal; we need common-sense guardrails to safeguard the integrity of our electoral process. I am proud to support this legislation to fight big-money foreign influence.”

“Elections in our country should be decided by the American people, not foreign nationals trying to sway the outcome by funneling money to candidates or ballot harvesting initiatives,” said Senator Lummis. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this commonsense legislation to safeguard our elections from foreign interference and give the power back to the American people.”

“Ensuring that only Americans participate in our electoral processes is paramount,” said Senator Marshall. “For far too long, we have witnessed foreign actors spending enormous sums of money directly and through intermediaries to taint our electoral processes. This bill adds meaningful safeguards to protect the integrity of our elections, and I am proud to stand alongside Senator Hagerty in introducing this bill.”

“It is irresponsible and alarming that our laws leave the door open to foreign nationals and U.S. adversaries influencing American politics,” said Caitlin Sutherland, Executive Director of Americans for Public Trust. “Our report reveals that Sixteen Thirty Fund is acting as a conduit for massive amounts of money not only from a foreign billionaire, but from one with an expressed goal of reshaping U.S. politics all to align with his out-of-touch worldview. After years of national discourse about fears of foreign influence in our elections, this commonsense proposal to close the foreign influence loophole should be something everyone can support.”

“Honest Elections Project Action applauds Senator Hagerty’s effort to close the foreign money loophole in American politics,” said Jason Snead, Executive Director of Honest Elections Project. “Foreign billionaire Hansjörg Wyss has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to liberal groups like Sixteen Thirty Fund, which in turn has spent nearly $100 million on extremely consequential ballot measures in states across the country. We should protect election integrity by keeping foreign money out of American elections, which is why the Senate should take up and pass this critical legislation.”

“In this crucial election year, the integrity of our elections is a top concern for many Americans,” said Ryan Walker, Executive Vice President of Heritage Action. “When necessary and appropriate, Congress should act to secure and inspire trust in our system. Foreign billionaires should not be allowed to meddle in our elections—period. Senator Hagerty’s Prevent Foreign Interference in American Elections Act is an important solution to a glaring problem impacting all Americans.”

The Preventing Foreign Interference in American Elections Act:

  • Prevents circumvention of the ban on “indirect” election-related contributions by foreign nationals by expressly covering any donation with an express or implied instruction (including involving intermediaries or conduits) that results in the donation being used for prohibited U.S. election-related activity;
  • Prohibits foreign-national contributions for ballot harvesting, get-out-the-vote activity, public communications that promote a political party, or “Zuckerbucks”-type election administration activity;
  • Bars foreign nationals from donating in connection with state ballot initiatives; and
  • Prohibits overbroad investigations or pretextual government collection or disclosure of Americans’ nonprofit donor information for the purpose of intimidation or chilling Americans’ free-speech rights.


Full text of the Preventing Foreign Interference in American Elections Act can be found here.