Jena Griswold Secretary of State Colorado

In this file photo, Jena Griswold, Colorado's secretary of state, speaks during the first stop of a statewide bus tour in October 2018 in Silverthorne, Colo.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold testified in front of the Colorado Senate Affairs Committee on Thursday in support of a bill aiming to prevent foreign influence in the state's elections.

The Preventing Foreign Influence Act would prohibit foreign-influenced corporations from making electioneering communications, defined as broadcasts to a district that refer to a specific candidate ahead of an election.

“Big corporations should not have a blank check to influence candidate elections, nor should we permit foreign influence in our electoral process,” Griswold said during her testimony.

“The (bill) would stop big corporations with significant foreign ownership from influencing candidate elections in Colorado.”

Under the bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bridges and Rep. Steven Woodrow, foreign-influenced corporations would also be prohibited from contributing to Colorado SuperPACs, which spend money to influence candidate elections.

Corporations are considered foreign-influenced if they have a 1% ownership from a foreign government, a 5% ownership from a single non-U.S. person or 20% aggregate ownership from multiple non-U.S. people.

The bill was introduced in the Colorado General Assembly by Bridges last week. It passed out of committee with bipartisan support in a 4-1 vote Wednesday.

“Now is the time to build our national leadership in elections by spearheading this effort to curb foreign corporate influence and put power back in the hands of everyday people,” Griswold said.

The bill continues policy from Griswold’s 2019 Clean Campaign Act, which banned non-U.S. citizens from funding political committees, required “paid for by” disclaimers on communications to voters and prohibited pre-candidate coordination.

The full Preventing Foreign Influence Act is available at leg.colorado.gov.

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