A new bill introduced by a state assemblymember from the South Bay seeks to improve the integrity of California elections.
Assemblymember Alex Lee, D-San Jose, penned Assembly Bill 83, or the Get Foreign Money Out of California Act.
The bill would amend the state’s Political Reform Act of 1974, which prohibits foreign governments or foreign nationals from making contributions, donations or expenditures to politicians or political committees in California.
The amendment would prohibit foreign influenced corporations from engaging in direct election spending within the state.
Under AB 83, a U.S. corporation would be “foreign influenced” if 1 percent of the company’s shares were owned by a single foreign investor, if 5 percent of shares are owned by multiple foreign investors, or if a foreign entity participates in making decisions on state or local political spending.
Green card holders are exempt from the statute because they have established legal permanent residence in the country and have a legitimate stake in the outcome of state, local and federal elections.
“Foreign investment in U.S. companies has increased dramatically to own 40 percent of all U.S. corporate equity,” Lee said. “Our reform to stop foreign money from exerting influence on California elections is needed to plug this giant loophole in Citizens United.”
That loophole was created in the U.S. Supreme Court 2010 ruling Citizens United v. FEC that lifted a ban on independent campaign expenditures by corporations.
The bill, now pending in the Legislature, was co-authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra, D-San Jose.