(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08) released the following statement after voting against the SHIELD Act, (H.R. 4617), an attempt by House Democrats to federalize the election process and limit the free speech of Americans:
“House Democrats’ latest attempt at government overreach is a federal takeover of the election process. Their legislation is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – they claim that it merely includes provisions to stop foreign influence through reasonable protections. However, in reality it will have substantial consequences on American citizens by suppressing their First Amendment rights and vastly expanding the power and reach of the federal government.
“We can and must secure our election process from foreign influence through a reasonable and informed approach that does not hinder the First Amendment rights of Americans. I support strengthening the Foreign Agents Restrictions Act that targets bad actors, codifying existing Federal Election Commission regulations on internet ad sponsorship, and expanding prohibitions on donations by foreign nations. These are real steps we can take to protect our democracy without hindering the free speech of Americans, as House Democrats are so eager to do.”
Dr. Bucshon is a cosponsor of the Honest Elections Act H.R. 4736
- Strengthens the Foreign Agents Registration Act to extend its reach beyond the United States and apply to foreign governments, corporations, and individuals.
- Expands FARA coverage to also include election influencing activities to capture the actual activity of Russia during the 2016 election.
- Codifies existing FEC guidance clarifying that sponsorship disclosure is required for internet ads.
- Requires the FEC to analyze and report on illicit foreign spending in elections and expands prohibitions on contributions and donations by foreign nationals.
- Bans ballot harvesting.
- Prohibits Elections Assistance Commission funds to states that allow non-citizen voting.
SHIELD Act H.R. 4617
Would not prevent Russian tampering:
Total spending on digital political ads was $1.4 billion in the 2016 election cycle. Russia spent only $100,000 over two years on Facebook ads, the majority which were not election ads and wouldn’t be regulated by this bill.
Mandates federal overreach in elections:
The bill aims not to impede “legitimate” journalistic activities but gives the federal government the responsibility of determining what qualifies as “legitimate” press/news.
Attempts to apply aging regulations to advance technology:
The internet is always evolving, and the regulations related to TV advertising do not fit well with internet ads.
Will create a chilling effect on free speech:
The bill will take ads that are not political in nature and classify them as such, which will cause problems for many advocacy organizations or even companies that have nothing to do with politics