Sen. Susan Collins is co-sponsoring legislation that would require presidential campaigns to report foreign contacts to federal authorities.

Collins, a Maine Republican who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Tuesday that she’s co-sponsoring the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections, or FIRE, Act, introduced by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia. She’s the first Republican to back the bill, according to The Hill, a newspaper and website that covers Congress.

The FIRE Act would require presidential campaigns to report any contacts with foreign nationals trying to make campaign donations or otherwise coordinate with a campaign. Such contacts would have to be reported to federal authorities, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Russia’s efforts to interfere in our elections remain relentless,” Collins said in a written statement. “I’m proud to join Senator Mark Warner in co-sponsoring the bipartisan FIRE Act to require presidential candidates to immediately call the FBI if they are contacted by a foreign power attempting to target our elections.”

Warner posted a statement to Twitter welcoming Collins’ support.

“Today I’m pleased to add @SenatorCollins as a sponsor of the FIRE Act,” Warner said. “We need to make it clear for presidential campaigns going forward: If a foreign power contacts you attempting to interfere in our elections, you call the FBI. #ProtectOurElections”


The bill would require campaigns to implement a compliance system to monitor reportable foreign contacts with campaign representatives and to train all other employees and associates about their legal obligations, Collins said in a news release. Campaigns would be required to report the contacts to both the FBI and the Federal Elections Commission and preserve all relevant records.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has so far blocked the legislation from coming forward.

Collins’ announcement comes days after the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report saying that Russia likely targeted election systems in all 50 states during the 2016 elections.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian’s interference in 2016 described multiple contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals, including a June 9, 2016, meeting with a Kremlin-linked attorney and other Russians offering damaging information on his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

President Trump has dismissed concerns about Russian interference in U.S. elections. And in June, Trump said in an interview with ABC that he would be willing to meet and listen to foreign agents offering damaging information on a political opponent, while suggesting he may not alert the FBI about such contacts.

“I think I’d take it,” Trump said, according to the interview transcript. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI. If I thought there was something wrong.”

His remarks were criticized by both Democrats and Republicans, including Collins, who said that such contacts should be reported to the FBI.

Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee and was an original co-sponsor of the legislation. King has strongly criticized Trump for saying he would accept help from a foreign power.

“This shouldn’t need to be said, and this certainly shouldn’t be a partisan issue: Accepting any sort of assistance from a foreign power in an attempt to influence an election is completely and totally antithetical to America’s founding principles,” King said in a statement provided by his office. “Dating back to George Washington and the Federalist Papers, the independence of American elections has been a hallmark of our electoral system, and we cannot allow any foreign nations – particularly adversaries – to put a thumb on the scale of our public debate. Frankly, this should be non-controversial, because any candidate, from any party, should know that this type of behavior is wrong. It’s not complicated – just call the FBI!”

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