Press Releases

Bacon Supports Honest Elections; Decries Trojan Horse “Shield Act”

 – Today, Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02) voted against the House Democrats’ “Shield Act” and showed his commitment to safe-guarding elections from foreign influence and to protecting the first amendment rights of Americans by supporting and co-sponsoring the “Honest Elections Act.” 

The “Honest Elections Act” was introduced last Friday by the House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rodney Davis (Ill.), and co-sponsored by Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Bill Posey (Fla.), Pete King (N.Y.), Mark Walker (N.C.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Pete Stauber (Minn.), Greg Steube (Fla.) and Puerto Rico Congresswoman Jennifer González-Colón (R). It will update existing election laws including the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The bill also adopts a modern, common-sense approach for disclosing who has paid for online political ads, increases monitoring of spending by foreign nationals in elections, bans ballot harvesting, and prohibits the Election Assistance Commission funds from going to states allowing non-citizen voting.

“Russia’s misinformation campaign in the 2016 presidential election was unconscionable and I consider it to be a form of electronic warfare, which is why we have to enact transparency measures for online political ads,” said Rep. Bacon. “Their purposeful actions have led to distrust and a lack of civility among Americans across all political and social spectrums and this bill will fight nefarious actors from intruding in our elections.” 

While the Honest Elections Act will reform existing laws to meet with the technology and methods of the 21st Century, including the most common methods used by foreign actors, the so called “Shield Act” introduced by House Democrats raises some real concerns and infringes on the freedom of the press.

“This Trojan Horse legislation presents some seemingly reasonable protections but will have substantial consequences for American journalists because while it identifies ‘legitimate journalistic activities’ as protected from requirements in this legislation, it fails to define it,” said Rep. Bacon. “So, who will define ‘legitimate journalistic activities? The government?”

“The legislation clearly defines what a ‘reputable foreign contact’ and a ‘covered foreign national’ are and I am extremely concerned that the Federal Elections Commission could eventually make laws that abridge the freedom of the press,” added Rep. Bacon. “Why did they define those two classifications and not ensure our press is protected?”

Conversely, the Honest Elections Act does protect U.S. media as long as at least 80 percent of the ownership, and officers and directors if applicable, are U.S. citizens.

“Clearly, the Honest Elections Act is better suited to protect some of our freedoms and basic rights,” said Rep. Bacon.“This includes the freedom to have fair elections that are not influenced by foreign actors, and the freedom of our press to report on the news of the day.”

The ACLU also has concerns about the SHIELD Act because it is too broad. This is the second bill introduced by House Democrats concerning elections, that the ACLU has not supported.