(VOA News) – They used to operate in the shadows, but increasingly, foreign lobbyists and influence peddlers are revealing their activities as the U.S. Justice Department steps up enforcement of the little-known Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
The law, enacted in 1938 to counter Nazi propaganda, requires public relations professionals, law firms and others working on behalf of foreign governments in the United States to register with the Justice Department and report on their efforts every six months. Many lobbyists chose to ignore the requirement, because of lax enforcement and oversight in the past, but the special counsel’s use of the law during the Russia investigation to prosecute violators has changed that.
Voluntary compliance with the law has spiked since 2016, when former Donald Trump presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s past lobbying efforts for Ukrainian politicians came to light. FARA registrations picked up further after Manafort and his former business partner, Rick Gates, were indicted last October on a slew of charges, including FARA violations.
Data from the Justice Department show the number of active FARA registrants with the agency has surged to 422 this week, up 24 percent since October and 35 percent higher than late 2016 levels. For nearly two decades prior to 2014, the number had been falling.
Read more of this story