Legislation & policy analysis

Reps. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and John Sarbanes (D-MD) sponsor Honest Ads Act

Update, January 8, 2018: Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and David Young (R-IA) both cosponsored the Honest Ads Act. This brings the total number of sponsors of the bill to 16. 

Today, New Jersey Republican Rep. Leonard Lance and Maryland Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes joined in sponsoring the bipartisan, bicameral legislation to begin protecting U.S. politics from foreign interference. This brings the total number of sponsors of the bill to 12.

Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee released the following statement:

“Congress should use this legislation as the basis for hearings focused on updating our 20th century laws that are overmatched by the 21st century reality of political campaigning. The problems highlighted by Russia’s meddling throughout the 2016 election cycle go to the heart of Congress’s national security obligations to safeguard Americans from foreign actors seeking to do the country harm. In the meantime, the Republicans and Democrats who continue to work together on constitutional, bipartisan solutions to protect our democracy should be applauded, and more lawmakers should follow their lead.”

The Honest Ads Act (H.R. 4077) list of current sponsors includes:

Republicans Democrats
Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD)
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT)
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL)
Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY)
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA)


In October 2017, several congressional committees held hearings on the growing national security threat on the use of online advertising by malicious foreign actors. The reach of large online platforms has greatly facilitated the scope and effectiveness of disinformation campaigns by foreign actors. During the 2016 elections, groups linked to the Russian government spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on political advertising that was potentially seen by tens of millions of Americans. The Honest Ads Act (H.R. 4077) seeks to combat the problem of hidden foreign disinformation campaigns by implementing a disclosure system for paid, online political advertising. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is intended to be a carefully crafted first step to stop foreign interference in U.S. elections.

To learn more about the Honest Ads Act, read Issue One’s policy explainer or watch our segment on C-SPAN. The Senate also introduced their version of the bill, sponsored by Sens. Klobuchar (D-MN), McCain (R-AZ) and Warner (D-VA).