Blumenthal: Candidates should report offers of assistance by foreign nationals

May 1, 2019 GMT

It’s illegal for a foreign national to make a campaign contribution or donation in a U.S. election. And it’s illegal for a U.S. citizen to solicit or accept such assistance.

But candidates for election in the U.S. are not legally required to report receiving assistance from a foreign national.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California who is running for president in 2020, want to change that.

The “Duty to Report Act” would make it a crime for candidates, federal campaigns and political action campaigns to fail to report to the Federal Election Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation “offers of assistance” from a foreign national.


The legislation was introduced Tuesday by Blumenthal in the Senate and by Swalwell in the House.

“It’s a direct response to the attack by the Russians on our 2016 elections and the prospect of their continuing attempt to undermine our democracy,” Blumenthal said. “It very simply imposes a clear and indisputable legal duty on federal campaigns and candidates and others to avoid what happened in the Trump campaign.”

The recently publicized report by special counsel Robert Mueller outlined in detail Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, including numerous meetings between advisers of then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian operatives seeking to influence the election.

The legislation from Blumenthal and Swalwell also would require disclosure of all meetings between candidates or campaign officials and agents of foreign governments, except for those held while a candidate is acting in his or her capacity as an elected official.

The men have received support from at least six of their Democratic colleagues. But no Republicans have signed on to the legislation so far.

The proposal is a broader version of legislation introduced last year by Swalwell, who said in a statement, “This is part of a series of reforms to demonstrate we are a government that will respond to foreign interference.”

Just last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned of Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election. Various law enforcement agencies that set up task forces to combat interference in the 2018 midterm elections have made them permanent.

Wray said at a speech in Washington at the Council of Foreign relations that 2018 was the “dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020.”