FEC rules foreigners can donate to US ballot initiatives, report says


The Federal Election Commission has ruled that foreigners – whether people, governments, or corporations – can make donations to ballot initiatives in states that don’t otherwise outlaw the practice, according to a Tuesday report. 

The 4-2 decision was made in July but has not yet been made public, according to Axios, which was the first outlet to report on the decision.  

A sign directs motorists to a polling site across from the Museum of Science and Nature, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in east Denver. Several items involving infrastructure rebuilding are on the ballot for voters to consider.

A sign directs motorists to a polling site across from the Museum of Science and Nature, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in east Denver. Several items involving infrastructure rebuilding are on the ballot for voters to consider.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

After its publication, FEC Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub said Tuesday she had voted against the agency’s decision to allow foreign influence on ballots. 

“I voted to protect our nation’s ballot initiatives from foreign influence, but my view did not prevail,” Weintraub wrote on Twitter. “Ballot initiatives can reach deeply into the laws of a state or locality and directly rewrite both statutes and constitutions. 

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“They are vulnerable to manipulation and are deserving of no less protection from foreign influence than are our candidate elections.” 

She said she would issue a full statement on the matter on Wednesday. 

A volunteer urges community members to vote yes on ballot question two outside of a polling place on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 in Minneapolis.

A volunteer urges community members to vote yes on ballot question two outside of a polling place on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 in Minneapolis.
(AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)

The July decision stemmed from a complaint filed against an Australian mining company that donated to a 2018 anti-highway ballot initiative in Montana. 

Critics argue that allowing foreign entities to contribute to ballot initiatives will allow them to meddle in local and state affairs. 

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Earlier this year, Maine Gov. Janet Mills – a Democrat – vetoed a bill by state lawmakers that would have prohibited foreign governments and foreign-owned government entities from making donations to state and local ballot initiatives. 

Voters emerge from Sabathani Community Center after casting their ballots during municipal elections Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Minneapolis.   

Voters emerge from Sabathani Community Center after casting their ballots during municipal elections Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Minneapolis.   
(David Joles /Star Tribune via AP)

Mills gave many reasons why she vetoed the bill, one of which was that businesses with foreign investments include major employers in Maine. She also said the bill could have a negative impact on Maine voters. 

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Fox News has reached out to the FEC for comment on its July decision but it declined to comment on the specifics of the case. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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