State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Foreign campaign finance

In Maine, Fight Over Foreign Financing Has Only Just Begun

By: Connor Skelly

A fight over an electrical transmission line in the Great North Woods has ignited a firestorm around the ability of foreign government owned corporations to spend money on electioneering in the state of Maine, with implications that could stretch all the way back to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

LD 194 was passed by the Maine Legislature in the wake of Hydro-Quebec, a company that is solely owned by Quebec’s provincial government, spending $10 million dollars on campaigning against a referendum that would have halted the constructed of a 145-mile transmission line that would bring the company’s electricity into Maine. While entities owned by foreign governments are already prohibited by both federal and Maine law from contributing money to candidates, a loophole still exists that allows them to contribute money in Maine’s popular referendums. LD 194 was meant to close this loophole. The bill prohibited companies with 10% or more ownership by foreign governments from contributing money in any Maine election, including referendums.

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The Political Power of Wealth?: An International Perspective on Campaign Financing

By: Hannah Thompson

In June 2013, the New Zealand Parliament passed the Local Electoral Amendment Act 2013 with the primary intention of tightening rules on campaign financing in local elections. The Act determined that donations exceeding NZD $1,500 (roughly USD $995) – whether in cash, or in goods and services – made to candidates in relation to an election campaign could not be done so anonymously. Any person involved in the administration of the affairs of a candidate, relating to his or her election campaign, can now be liable for failing to disclose a donor’s identity (where it is known) for a fine not exceeding NZD $5,000 (USD $3,380). The relative modesty of the donation amount to be disclosed is intended to ensure that the identities of all moderate financial contributors to local electoral campaigns are publicly accessible information. In addition, the Electoral Act 1993 determines that candidates must file a return with the New Zealand Electoral Commission in respect of all donations from a single donor exceeding a total of NZD $30,000 (USD $19,900).

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