Today, Republican and Democratic former Defense Secretaries Chuck Hagel and Leon Panetta, former Acting Homeland Security Secretary Admiral James Loy, and 90 other former members of Congress, governors, and Cabinet secretaries from both parties, called on the U.S. Senate to support a suite of bipartisan bills that would defend America’s elections against foreign interference.
They are members of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus, the largest bipartisan coalition of its kind ever assembled to advocate for solutions to fix our broken political system.
The letter states, “We are alarmed at the lack of meaningful Congressional action to secure our elections. Unity in times of national crisis has long been a hallmark of American government. The current crisis is no exception.” It was signed by 93 leaders — including 35 Republicans and 56 Democrats — and delivered to all 100 Senate offices today.
“We have a national security emergency. It’s time for the Senate to put aside politics and pass these bipartisan bills to secure our elections,” said Issue One CEO Nick Penniman. “Every week we hear about new attempts by foreign actors to interfere in our political system. But Senate leadership is still not addressing the crisis facing our democracy.”
Signers of the letter — some of whom held multiple elected and appointed offices — include:
- Four members of the 9/11 Commission under George W. Bush, including the chair and vice chair.
- Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN) (Vice Chair), Gov. Thomas Kean (R-NJ) (Chair), Gov. Bob Kerrey (D-NE), and Amb. Tim Roemer (D-IN).
- Six former Cabinet officials who served under Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
- Sec. Ray LaHood (R-IL), Sec. Bill Brock (R-TN), Sec. Dan Glickman (D-KS), Sec. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Sec. Leon Panetta (D-CA), and Sec. Ed Schafer (R-ND).
- Four former Ambassadors
- Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Wyche Fowler (D-GA); Ambassador to Denmark, Richard Swett (D-NH); Ambassador to Panama, William Hughes (D-NJ); OECD Ambassador Connie Morella (R-MD).
- 10 former Republican, Democratic, and independent Senators
- Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), Sen. Gary Hart (D-CO), Sen. Larry Pressler (I-SD), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Sen. Tim Wirth (D-CO).
These national security leaders emphasized that local and state governments need additional financial support to address election vulnerabilities, coupled with minimum standards and requirements to ensure election integrity and verifiability. They also expressed their support for the following bipartisan bills:
- The Secure Elections Act, which bolsters our voting systems while reaffirming each state’s role in administering federal elections.
- The Honest Ads Act, which helps protect against hidden foreign propaganda efforts online.
- The Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Enhancement Act, which modernizes and enforces existing lobbying laws and imposes meaningful penalties for rulebreakers.
- The Shell Company Abuse Act, which ensures that foreign actors cannot hide behind our tax laws to subvert our elections.
- The Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act, which imposes sanctions on countries that interfere in American elections.