“Law on Foreign Campaign Money Narrow, FEC Analysis Says”

Bloomberg BNA:

The Federal Election Commission may be severely constrained in what it can or will do to combat foreign influence in U.S. elections, a new analysis posted on the agency’s website suggests.
The commissioners have recently grappled with the foreign influence issue and are set to discuss it again in a July 13 meeting, according to the agenda.
Analyzing the current state of campaign finance laws and FEC precedents, the agency’s new “outreach” article says the law bars only a specific, narrow type of spending—money provided directly to a candidate, political party, or other group calling for votes for or against a candidate.
Reports of spending by Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election have focused not on such direct campaign spending but instead on efforts to hack the computers of the Democratic Party and others, as well as efforts to generate election-related propaganda on the internet. Whether such efforts are subject to the legal prohibitions on foreign campaign money is a major question to be addressed by the FEC and others, including special counsel Robert Mueller, now examining Russian influence in the last election.
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