DOJ Sends Letter to Congress in Support of Proposed FARA Legislation, Repeal of LDA Exemption

Assistant U.S. Attorney General of Legislative Affairs Carlos Uriarte recently sent a letter to members of Congress on the Foreign Relations and Judiciary committees discussing S. 1724, a proposed bill on improving the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”). The letter expressed support for the legislation and urged repeal of FARA’s Lobbying Disclosure Act (“LDA”) registration exemption.

1724, the Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Enhancement Act, would authorize the Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) FARA Unit to issue civil investigative demands to compel the production of documents, interrogatories, or depositions in support of a civil investigation by the Unit concerning FARA compliance. Uriarte argued that the current lack of authority to compel such production hampers the Unit’s ability to assess whether there is a registration obligation under FARA.

The bill would also add civil penalties for delinquent or defective filings and for other violations, as well as increasing maximum fines for criminal violations of FARA.

Uriarte also expressed the position of the DOJ that the exemption from FARA registration for those already registered under the LDA should be repealed. Noting that one section of the bill would require an audit of the use of the LDA exemption and to submit recommendations to Congress, Uriarte argued that the provision is unnecessary, as the DOJ already conducted an assessment of the exemption and concluded it should be removed from FARA. LDA registration, he contended, has not proven to be an adequate substitute for transparency when FARA’s requirements would otherwise apply and can shield from more rigorous FARA disclosure requirements those who would otherwise be obligated to register.

An Informational Resource in a New Era of Foreign Agents Registration Act Enforcement.



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