Ballot drop box
A ballot drop box in San Diego. Courtesy of the Registrar of Voters

The U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous 2010 decision Citizens United vs. FEC opened a loophole for foreign interests to manipulate American elections.

Assembly Bill 83 offers Californians a chance to close that loophole at the state and local levels and to set an example for other states to follow.

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The 5-4 Citizens United decision jettisoned over a century of campaign finance restrictions by inviting corporations and outside organizations to spend unlimited funds on political elections.

The court justified Citizens United by equating money with free speech and by assuming that all spending would be ethical (see Super PACs), transparent (see Dark Money), and domestic (Yes on AB 83).

However, U.S. corporations are not entirely controlled by U.S. citizens. In fact, over 40% of shares in U.S. corporations are held by foreign investors.

Thus, Citizens United invited corporations with substantial foreign ownership and foreign interests to spend unlimited money to manipulate American elections.

Given the burgeoning power of artificial intelligence and recent international conflicts, foreign manipulation of U.S. elections is now a greater concern than ever before. We need to protect our Democracy from those who seek to subvert and destroy it.

While we may not be able to overturn Citizens United in the near term, the passage of AB 83 will help close the foreign influence loophole, safeguard our state and local elections, and set an example for the rest of our nation to follow.

Let’s close the loophole that invites foreign money to manipulate California elections by unanimously passing AB 83.

San Diego County assemblymembers: we the people invite each of you to stand on the right side of history and to defend democracy by unanimously passing AB 83 — because Californians should decide California elections.

John Scott is a San Diego attorney and military veteran.