Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) cosponsored U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal’s (D-Conn.) Duty to Report Act, legislation to help protect our elections from foreign interference by requiring federal campaign officials to notify law enforcement if offered assistance by agents of another government.
“If a federal candidate, or any member of their campaign, receives unsolicited information from a foreign power about a rival candidate, they should have a legal duty to notify the FBI. It’s that simple. It’s what President Trump and his allies should have done in 2016, and it’s what his campaign, and all campaigns, must be required to do in the future. We can’t allow foreign countries to meddle in our democratic process if we are to protect the integrity of our elections and ensure the voices of Nevadans, and all American voters, are heard.”
Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Robert Casey (D-Penn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) joined Cortez Masto and Blumenthal in supporting this legislation.
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.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report documented numerous instances of foreign actors seeking to assist the Trump Campaign during the 2016 presidential election. On one occasion, Donald Trump, Jr. accepted a meeting with purported Russian government officials, knowing that these officials were offering “dirt” on his father’s opponent in the 2016 presidential election. Instead of reacting with concern or alarm that a foreign power was trying to meddle in a U.S. election in violation of federal law, Trump, Jr. wrote, “if it’s what you say, I love it.” He and his colleagues – then-Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner – later met with the Russian representatives to do so.
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. Had law enforcement been alerted to these incidents, Russia’s vast and sophisticated measures to attack our democracy could have been discovered much earlier. Enacting the Duty to Report Act will safeguard our democracy from foreign interference and ensure that US persons are held accountable for welcoming malign assistance from foreign governments attempting to influence our democratic processes.