Washington, D.C. – This week, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, joined Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA), the lead Democrat on the committee, in introducing an amendment to the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require presidential campaigns to report foreign interference in U.S. elections. The amendment introduction follows an attempt last week to pass the legislation by unanimous consent, which was ultimately blocked by Senate Republicans.
“At a time when our government should be doing everything possible to protect our elections and uphold our democracy, President Trump has effectively invited foreign adversaries to interfere in our elections,” said Bennet. “It is imperative we preserve the integrity of our democratic institutions, and our amendment is an important step in this effort to counter future interference from Russia—or others.”
The proposed NDAA amendment, based on the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections Act, would require presidential campaigns to disclose attempts at foreign elections interference to the appropriate federal authorities at the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The amendment requires presidential campaigns to report only contacts with foreign nationals offering explicit assistance that is already forbidden under existing law, or offers to collaborate or coordinate with a foreign government or agent. Routine contacts with foreign nationals, including meetings on official government business, personal conversations, contact with journalists, or contact with non-citizens expressing political views, including conversations with DREAMers, would continue to be exempt from any reporting requirements.
In addition to Bennet and Warner, the amendment is cosponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Angus King (I-ME).
This amendment follows recent action by Bennet to prevent foreign interference in our elections, including a letter he sent in April to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig inquiring about the steps they have taken to protect our elections. Bennet also called on the Director of National Intelligence to make election security assessments available to members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.