Defending America's Democracy

 Credit  Mark Bonica

the situation

The 2016 election has alerted Americans to the very real threat posed by hostile foreign governments who seek to undermine our democracy and influence our elections.

While this past campaign season witnessed the most brazen attack to date, foreign entities have been pursuing influence over America's elections for years. 

We must address all means by which foreign governments can gain influence over our representatives, our elections, and our voters. It is time to take strong action on this issue.


here's what we're doing about it

 

policy solutions

-INCREASE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING FARA AND INCREASE FUNDING TO THE FARA REGISTRATION UNIT FOR BETTER ENFORCEMENT: The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) is critical to protecting our sovereignty, democracy, and government from foreign influence. Any individual or organization in the United States that acts at the behest of a foreign government must register as a foreign agent. This allows us to know who they are, who they are working for, and what they are doing. Currently, compliance with this law is a joke and countless foreign agents are pursuing their national interests in our government facilities without our knowledge. We must increase penalties for those who violate FARA and increase funding to the units that enforce it. 

-IMPLEMENT KEY PROVISIONS OF THE "FOREIGN AGENTS REGISTRATION MODERNIZATION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT": These provisions would force foreign media outlets to register as foreign agents, thereby allowing the Justice Department to better evaluate the funding sources and foreign government connections of such media outlets. If they are not being used as state backed propaganda outlets, then their activities will continue unimpeded. However, if they are being used to spread foreign propaganda then the Justice Department will have the tools to properly investigate their activities and curtail them if need be.

-IMPLEMENT KEY PROVISIONS OF THE "CLOSE THE FOREIGN LOBBYING LOOPHOLE ACT": Lobbyists who act on behalf of a foreign owned business are often exempt from filing as foreign agents because their work is not considered to be in direct connection to a foreign government. However, in many countries there is no distinction between the private sector and the government. In China, for example, many of the largest firms are State Owned Enterprises which work directly for the government and advance the interests of the state. Every foreign lobbyist must register as a foreign agent and report their activities both inside and outside of the United States.

-RANKED CHOICE VOTING: As both of our two major political parties are far from perfect, it is imperative that Americans have additional options. One of the most significant reasons for the monopolies of the two parties is the idea that any vote for a third party is simply wasted or even worse, you are inadvertently helping the party that you don’t like because you didn’t give your vote to your own party. This is a terrible way to conduct our elections and it ensures that America will only have two options for the foreseeable future. Why limit our choices in this manner?


read more below

 
 Credit  Mike Mozart

policy solutions

INCREASE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING FARA AND INCREASE FUNDING TO THE FARA REGISTRATION UNIT FOR BETTER ENFORCEMENT: 

The Foreign Agents Registration Act is critical to protecting our sovereignty, democracy, and government from foreign influence. Any individual or organization in the United States that acts at the behest of a foreign government must register as a foreign agent. This allows us to know who they are, who they are working for, and what they are doing. Currently, compliance with this law is a joke and countless foreign agents are pursuing their national interests in our government facilities without our knowledge. We must increase penalties for those who violate FARA and increase funding to the units that enforce it.

This is one of the most important aspects of our effort to limit foreign influence in our government, yet most voters are unaware of its significance. The enforcement of FARA is the responsibility of the FARA Registration Unit of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice. This unit requires greater funding and personnel in order to adequately perform their duties. There should be no argument as to the necessity of this increased funding. Additionally, penalties must be increased and rigorously enforced. Emphasis should be shifted from voluntary compliance to mandatory compliance under threat of harsh punishment. In summation, we need a well staffed and adequately financed FARA task force to aggressively pursue foreign agents who violate this law and we need stronger penalties for them to utilize.

IMPLEMENT KEY PROVISIONS OF THE "FOREIGN AGENTS REGISTRATION MODERNIZATION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT":

An increasing concern among national security experts is the utilization of foreign, state-run media outlets for the purpose of spreading propaganda or influencing public opinion in America. Currently, these companies have very lax reporting requirements as they are deemed to be non-political entities. However, a few minutes of research will reveal that these media outlets are extremely political entities which coordinate directly with foreign government officials in order to pursue their policy objectives in America.

The time for turning a blind eye to these organizations is over. These organizations must be recognized for what they are, instruments of foreign policy being utilized by their home countries to influence politicians and voters here in the United States. This is why we must update the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). We must eliminate the loophole that allows these organizations to avoid filing as foreign agents and thus avoid the reporting requirements and background disclosures which foreign agents are obligated to provide. The Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act addresses this issue and seeks to remedy the shortcomings of FARA. By designating these state-run media outlets as foreign agents, the Justice Department will be able to investigate them more effectively, and take legal action against them if necessary.

IMPLEMENT KEY PROVISIONS OF THE "CLOSE THE FOREIGN LOBBYING LOOPHOLE ACT": 

 Credit  Sashikag

Credit Sashikag

Lobbyists who act on behalf of a foreign owned business are often exempt from filing as foreign agents because their work is not considered to be in direct connection to a foreign government. However, in many countries there is no distinction between the private sector and the government. In China, for example, many of the largest firms are State Owned Enterprises which work directly for the government and advance the interests of the state. Every foreign lobbyist must register as a foreign agent and report their activities both inside and outside of the United States.

For many Russian and Chinese lobbyists, working for a "private company" allows them to avoid all of the scrutiny that goes with registering as a foreign agent. However, these individuals are working directly on behalf of their home country and its interests as many of these "private companies" are owned and controlled by their government. In this manner, these individuals can have tremendous influence over our politicians and our legislative process while hiding behind the facade of simply representing a business. This farce has gone on long enough. We must implement the key provisions of the "Close the Foreign Lobbying Loophole Act" so that we can register these people as foreign agents and demand information on their actions both within and outside of the United States.

RANKED CHOICE VOTING: As both of our two major political parties are far from perfect, it is imperative that Americans have additional options. One of the most significant reasons for the monopolies of the two parties is the idea that any vote for a third party is simply wasted or even worse, you are inadvertently helping the party that you don’t like because you didn’t give your vote to your own party. This is a terrible way to conduct our elections and it ensures that America will only have two options for the foreseeable future. Why limit our choices in this manner?

One way of changing this is through ranked choice voting. This allows voters to rank their choices of three candidates. If their first choice loses, their second choice will get their vote. This ensures that their vote is not wasted. Let’s look at a hypothetical situation for further explanation:

American citizen John Doe is going to vote for a Congressman to represent his district. John Doe considers himself a Democrat and he really doesn’t want the Republican candidate to win. However, John Doe is not very satisfied with the Democratic candidate in this race. John really likes an independent candidate, but that candidate probably won’t win so why should John vote for him? If John votes for the independent candidate with little chance of that candidate winning, then John’s vote does nothing to stop the Republican candidate. With ranked choice voting, John can rank the independent candidate as his first choice and the Democratic candidate as his second choice. If the independent candidate loses, John’s vote goes to the Democrat. This allows voters to look beyond their political parties for new ideas and new candidates that might really provide the policies that Americans desire. However, voters will still have the security of knowing that their votes will not be wasted if their longshot first choice candidate doesn’t win. This form of voting should be implemented in every state and for Presidential races.