Grassley leads revival of foreign lobbying disclosure reforms

WASHINGTON –Senator Chuck Grassley, a leading member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has reintroduced legislation aimed at highlighting the efforts of foreign interests to influence American politics and public opinion. the Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Act adds bite to existing law aimed at raising public awareness of lobbying campaigns by foreign powers. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Todd Young (R-Ind.) And Lindsey Graham (RS.C.), and is identical to bipartite legislation introduced by Grassley in 2019.

“If lobbyists or PR firms peddle political preferences at the behest of foreign powers, we need to know. Unfortunately, we have seen uneven application of laws designed to expose foreign lobbying. This bill gives the Department of Justice new tools to detect and deter secret foreign lobbying and ensures that policymakers and the American public know when influence campaigns are being pushed by foreign interests. The bill is the result of years of negotiations and it is time to put it on the books ”. Grassley said.

“Foreign governments that seek to influence American institutions sometimes attempt to circumvent these important requirements for transparency. This bill would give the Justice Department more resources to investigate the actions of foreign powers and put in place enforcement mechanisms to ensure that those who do not comply face consequences. ” Cornyn said.

“I am happy to join my colleagues in reintroducing this bill aimed at protecting the integrity of democracy against foreign interference and influence campaigns. Vast efforts of foreign influence are underway in our universities, state, local and federal governments, and even private sector companies. I will continue to focus on bipartisan efforts to make it clear that we will hold individuals and foreign governments to account who attempt to interfere in our democracy ”. Rubio said.

“Since 2019, I have been pushing to raise the curtain on how foreign lobbying campaigns – especially those led by strategic rivals like China – act to influence Americans. This legislation aims to strengthen federal requirements to ensure that people working on behalf of foreign entities report their activities. The bill will give the US Department of Justice more tools to improve compliance and transparency, which in turn will protect our national security interests ”. Young said.

Congress adopted the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in 1938 to identify Nazi propaganda and other foreign efforts to influence American policy. Neutral content law requires anyone working on behalf of a foreign government, political party, or entity to influence U.S. policy or public opinion to register with the department. of Justice as a foreign agent. However, since its update in 1966, FARA has been used sparingly in criminal proceedings and its application has been inconsistent. the Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Act strengthens FARA by providing the Ministry of Justice with more tools to investigate possible violations and by increasing the penalties for failure to properly register as a foreign agent. The bill also provides for important oversight checks on the use of these new tools and improves the transparency of FARA’s advisory opinions and obliges the Government Accountability Office to consider whether and to what extent the Lobbying Disclosure Act the exemption is being abused to conceal foreign lobbying activities.

This bill is identical to bipartisan legislation first introduced in 2019 after years of congressional oversight and input from federal agencies and US-based stakeholders. He won bipartisan support from the heads of Senate committees on the judiciary, intelligence and foreign relations.

More information on Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Act


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