TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida bill banning foreign nationals, companies, and political parties from donating to state political candidates hit the Senate for discussion on Thursday.
Senate Bill 1352 would limit political contributions from anyone who isn’t a United States citizen, a U.S.-based company, or is an international political group. It’s an effort to remove foreign influence from Florida’s elections.
As written, residents of the U.S. with dual citizenship or a business that is based in the U.S. but owned by an international company would still be able to make political contributions. The legislation spells out who can or cannot donate as a list.
The bill defines a “foreign national” to mean:
- A foreign government
- A foreign political party
- A foreign corporation, partnership, association, organization, or other combination of persons organized under the laws of or having its principal place of business in a foreign country
- A person with foreign citizenship or A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and is not lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence.
“The term ‘foreign national’ does not include a person who is a dual citizen of the United States and a foreign country,” according to a legislative analysis. Additionally, the bill goes over what it allows for companies that may have U.S.-based subsidiaries.
A domestic subsidiary of a foreign corporation, partnership, association, organization, or other combination of persons organized under the laws of a foreign country will not be considered a “foreign national” under the bill if:
- The donations and disbursements used toward a contribution or expenditure are derived entirely from the subsidiary’s operations in the United States; and
- All decisions concerning disbursement of donations are made by individuals who are either citizens of the United States or a permanent resident of the United States.
For businesses, so long as a political contribution or expenditure is “derived entirely from funds generated by the subsidiary’s operations in the United States” and the decisions to donate or disburse for a contribution are made by U.S. citizens or permanent U.S residents, SB 1352 still allows the donations.
However, the bill says that for the purpose of budgeting, the donations and disbursements may not include decisions regarding the domestic subsidiary of a foreign company’s “overall budget for contributions or expenditures in connection with an election.”
Per laws already in place federally, the bill reads “a foreign national may not make or offer to make, directly or indirectly, a contribution or an expenditure in connection with any election held in the state” of Florida.
In the analysis, the state legislature said the bill would go along with U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld statutes barring foreign nationals from activities ‘intimately related to the process of democratic self-government,'” the analysis said. “Barring foreign nationals from participation in democratic political institution upholds a State’s obligation to ‘preserve the basic conception of a political community.'”
If the bill passes both chambers of the Florida Legislature and is signed into law, it would take effect July 1.