Marco Rubio Backs Effort to Reform the Foreign Agents Registration Act

This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., threw his support behind U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s, R-Texas, proposal to reform the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Cornyn introduced the “Preventing Adversary Influence, Disinformation and Obscured Foreign Financing (PAID OFF) Act” which will “close FARA registration loopholes and enable the U.S. government to catch unregistered agents” and “would remove the commercial activities and LDA registration exemptions that make it easy for foreign agents to lobby for America’s adversaries without disclosing that they are being paid by an adversary’s government.”

Rubio’s office offered some of the reasons why he was backing the proposal.

“Currently, consultants and lobbyists representing foreign adversaries are able to avoid registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by taking advantage of the commercial activities and exemptions under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). This allows them to avoid disclosing their lobbying efforts to the U.S. Department of Justice. Foreign adversaries of the United States are defined by executive order as the Chinese Communist Party, the Kremlin, the Iranian regime, North Korea, Cuba, and the Maduro regime in Venezuela,” Rubio’s office noted.

“To stop back-alley attempts by our enemies to influence American policymaking, it’s critical we close the loopholes allowing the worst offenders to spend millions of dollars on disinformation campaigns in the U.S. This legislation would prevent adversaries like China and Russia from ‘ghost-lobbying’ by requiring foreign agents to register and disclose political activity to the Department of Justice,” said Cornyn.

“Federal law should not provide protection for entities who are willing to do business with our enemies. If a lobbyist or consultant wants to work with our adversaries to subvert American interests, we deserve to know about it. Our bill would ensure U.S. law no longer provides cover for these corrupt cronies,” said Rubio.

Other backers include U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn. and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI.

The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. House.

Kevin Derby
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