From the Document: "The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), as amended, prohibits foreign nationals from contributing money 'or other thing[s] of value' in connection with a federal, state, or local election. A 'thing,' as one dictionary has it, is some entity that 'cannot be specifically designated or precisely described.' Sure enough, the scope of this ban has largely proven blurry, inconsistent, and frequently contested. FECA's prohibition has been the subject of much debate in the wake of congressional inquiries over the Trump Administration's dealings with Ukraine earlier this year. This Sidebar introduces the debate in three parts: first, it provides an overview of historical developments that led to the present statutory language; second, it discusses the relevant code and regulatory sections that compose the ban; and third, it reviews patterns and practical difficulties arising in the interpretation and enforcement of this prohibition, with special attention to opposition research and the contribution of information. The post concludes with considerations for Congress."
CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10358
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/