- The Washington Times - Friday, October 11, 2019

U.S. House members will vote on a bill this month requiring political campaigns to notify the government about any illicit help offered from foreign nationals, according to a letter released Friday by the House Majority Leader.

In a Dear Colleague letter addressed to fellow Democrats, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said the chamber will consider the legislation during the week of Oct. 21.

Called the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act, the bill contains several provisions meant to protect the U.S. electoral process from foreign meddling as related concerns linger ahead of next year’s presidential contest.

Among the bill’s language is a requirement for political campaigns, parties and political committees to report attempts by foreign governments, foreign political parties and their agents to influence U.S. elections by offering assistance.

Political campaigns and candidates who fail to disclose any offers of foreign help would be subject to criminal and civil liabilities if the bill becomes law as written.

The bill was introduced on Tuesday this week by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat, and is similar to legislation proposed months ago in the Senate, the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (FIRE) Act, by Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat.

Mr. Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, introduced his version after revelations emerged involving a number of interactions between members of President Trump’s election campaign and Russian nationals during the last White House race.

More recently, Ms. Lofgren, the chairwoman of the House Committee on House Administration, offered her bill after Mr. Trump urged both Ukraine and China last week to investigate 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

“Most Americans know that foreign governments have no business interfering in our elections,” Ms. Lofgren, California Democrat, said when she introduced the bill this week. “Instead, the Trump campaign and White House have welcomed and repeatedly solicited foreign assistance for his political activities. This behavior is unacceptable, and it is telling that the White House has gone to great lengths to hide it from the American people.”

Eighty-seven percent of voters, including 80 percent of Republicans, support requiring that political campaigns alert the FBI in the event of receiving information from foreign governments, according to the results of a Quinnipiac University poll released in July.

The U.S. government has established that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to help Mr. Trump defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. A lengthy Department of Justice investigation conducted afterward ultimately uncovered numerous interactions between members of Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russian nationals, but the probe failed to find any evidence to provide they had conspired or coordinated together.

Mr. Trump said in a June television interview that he would probably accept dirt on his political opponents offered by foreign nationals. He subsequently asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a phone call the following month to investigate Mr. Biden, triggering a member of the U.S. intelligence community to file a whistleblower complaint that culminated in House Democrats initiating an impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump has denied wrongdoing with respect to his foreign outreach. He reiterated his request to Ukraine while speaking to reporters last week, adding: “China, likewise, should start an investigation.”

Ms. Lofgren’s bill has 11 co-sponsors currently, all Democrats. The House Administration Committee plans to mark it up next week, Politico reported, citing a committee staffer.

Mr. Warner’s version has 10 co-sponsors, including one Republican and one independent.

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