Washington state campaign finance bill raises free speech, practicality questions

(The Center Square) – It is currently illegal under federal and Washington state law for foreign nationals to contribute to political campaigns, whether for candidates or initiatives.

A bill introduced in the Washington State Legislature this session would amend state law to instead ban “foreign-influenced” corporations from participating.

Supporters view it as a way to prevent foreign entities from manipulating the outcome of Washington’s elections, but detractors argue that it runs afoul of the First Amendment and lacks clarity as to what constitutes “foreign-influenced.”

House Bill 1885 sponsored by Rep. Sharlett Mena, D-Tacoma, would repeal the ban on foreign nationals contributing or spending money on Washington elections and replace it with “foreign-influenced corporations,” which is defined as a for-profit corporation or LLC that has a foreign investor who owns 1% or more of the company’s interests, or more than one foreign investor that collectively own 5% of the ownership interest.

Testifying during a Tuesday
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