Foreign influence on U.S. policy has been in the media spotlight a lot recently, from concerns that foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation improperly influenced Hillary Clinton's decision-making as Secretary of State, to allegations that President Trump's former national security adviser failed to register as a foreign lobbyist. It’s clear this is a problem that plagues both sides of the aisle.
But what hasn’t gotten much attention is the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the law that requires lobbyists working on behalf of foreign governments and political parties to disclose details about their activities.
Recent investigations by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) and the Department of Justice Inspector General have found that compliance with this law is unacceptably low, and it’s rarely enforced. Moreover, the Department of Justice (DOJ) only has two enforcement mechanisms available: the pursuit of criminal charges, which has only been done seven times in the last 50 years; or the imposing of a civil injunction, which has not been done since 1991.
The DOJ generally relies on “voluntary compliance,” which has clearly not been an effective means of enforcement.
POGO has a number of recommendations for updating this law—including the incorporation of civil fines into FARA to give the DOJ an additional enforcement mechanism, and a requirement for lobbyists to provide more details on their political activity—but we need your help to make this a Congressional priority.
Click here to take action and call your member of Congress to tell them it's time to fix FARA.
The Center for Defense Information at POGO aims to secure far more effective and ethical military forces at significantly lower cost.