We have finally learned conclusively that a Russian company associated with the Kremlin purchased ads that were meant to influence the 2016 Presidential election. Spending by foreign entities in political campaigns is not allowed, but it appears that our election laws were not working since Russia managed to interfere in the election extensively and intricately.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been charged with determining whether or not Donald Trump’s team cooperated with the Russians, and we are confident that he will get to the bottom of the matter. What we are not confident about is Washington’s willingness to stop foreign interventions into our elections in the future.
Right-wing politicians and their allies have been sabotaging our campaign finance laws for years. They have made it possible for an inordinate amount of money to be spent by a limited number of donors so that their causes and candidates can be favored. This definitely qualifies as a rigged system.
The fact that a foreign government purchased ads on Facebook for the purpose of interfering in our elections demonstrates that our elections are now very weak. We also see how we are unprepared to address this issue. After all, foreign governments aren’t the only entities that we have to worry about. Large corporations or even one billionaire with a plan have the means to connect with politicians who can make things happen for them.
The Russian troll farm only invested $100,000 in Facebook ads, but that is not necessarily the end of this type of activity. Plus, we actually don’t know exactly how much Russian money was spent on ads. The laws have technicalities that will allow people to spend with reckless abandon, and law enforcement agencies are not doing enough to put a stop to it. It’s possible that a foreign government spent as much as $10 million to influence an election just last year.
The fact is that Russia is not the only foreign government to interfere in our elections. In 2016, a company owned by Chinese nationalists took advantage of a loophole to donate $1.3 million to a Super PAC. Also last year, a Mexican businessman donated money to a Super PAC. This particular businessman hid the source of the money by donating through a shell organization and was convicted of this crime.
What has already occurred may be just the beginning. These types of donations are always done secretly so that they are difficult to trace, but the FEC has had 15 cases accusing foreign entities of spending on U.S. campaigns since January.
Washington cannot say that it doesn’t know what to do about these violations; it just lacks the will. Congress already has a number of bills, proposals and ideas that could close the loopholes that are currently causing this problem.
For example, the DISCLOSE Act would require all public and private entities and individuals to disclose political spending that they made in secrecy, but the Republicans have been filibustering this act for several years. House Democrats have been busy introducing other pieces of legislation, including the By the People Reform Package that contains a Constitutional amendment that would overturn some Supreme Court decisions as well as other measures. The package also includes the Get Money Out of U.S. Elections Act that would close the loopholes that allow foreign governments to spend on our elections.
Republicans who oppose the DISCLOSE Act must re-think this position. They must decide whether or not it is worth it to ensure that a few multi-millionaire donors have direct influence over politicians while foreign governments are allowed to meddle in our elections.
We must all be aware of the fact that foreign government spending on our democratic processes is presently occurring. Congress must take action to end this practice and make it possible for the American people to trust governmental processes again. We should be able to have faith in the outcome of our elections and that the government will stand up for our rights over the rights of foreign governments or a corporation.
About End Citizens United
End Citizens United has a mission to get big money out of politics once and for all. They also believe that the country’s political system is rigged, and their intention is to improve it. They plan to do this by helping democrats get elected to Congress who will work toward campaign finance reform. They will also involve themselves in state elections when they will have the opportunity to influence pro-reform measures.
Of prime importance to this group is educating the public on the issue of money in politics. Their end goal is to “End Citizens United,” the decision that allows unlimited and untraceable donations to be made.