U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced the Duty to Report Act – legislation to help protect elections from foreign interference by requiring federal campaign officials to notify law enforcement if offered assistance by agents of another government.
Swalwell, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Committee on the Judiciary, said, “When foreign adversaries seek to meddle in our elections, silence is not an option. The most basic function of government is to protect its people from foreign attack. If we neglect that obligation - or flat out refuse it - then we are not actually a government. This is part of a series of reforms to demonstrate we are a government that will respond to foreign interference.”
The Duty to Report Act would impose a legal duty on federal campaigns, candidates, and PACs to report offers of assistance from foreign nationals, including material, non-public information, to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The legislation also would require disclosure of all meetings between candidates or campaign officials and agents of foreign governments, other than those held in a candidate’s official capacity as an elected representative.
The bill introduced is a broader version of legislation that Swalwell first introduced last Congress.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report documented numerous instances of foreign actors seeking to assist the Trump Campaign during the 2016 presidential election.
Under current law, it is illegal for any foreign national, country, or entity to provide anything of value to a campaign or make an expenditure to influence a U.S. election. It is also illegal for a U.S. citizen to solicit or accept such assistance. But there is no legal requirement for Americans to report offers of such assistance.
“This isn’t a Democratic or Republican issue – any of our nation’s foes could try to tip the scale on behalf of any party’s candidate,” Swalwell said. “We’re all Americans, and we have to behave that way. Most of us probably hoped this would be common sense, but unfortunately, it seems we must specify it. This isn’t meant as a rebuke to President Trump or as an effort to relitigate the 2016 election—it’s a preventative, defensive measure for the future.”