Shaheen Helps Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Rules for Americans Representing Foreign EntitiesMarch 02, 2018
Shaheen previously spearheaded bipartisan legislation with Senator Todd Young (R-IN) that would give the DOJ authority to investigate potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
(Washington, DC)— Yesterday, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) worked with a bipartisan group of senators, including Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Todd Young (R-IN), to introduce the Foreign Agents Registration Amendments Act, a bill that would strengthen the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) to ensure Americans acting as agents of a foreign government report their activities to the U.S. government.
The bill would make the following reforms:
- Create a dedicated enforcement unit in the National Security Division to enforce FARA provisions.
- End loopholes that allow individuals to avoid FARA enforcement actions.
- Update and clarify civil and criminal enforcement provisions.
- Increase public access to FARA disclosures.
“As our nation battles aggressive foreign disinformation efforts, we need FARA rigorously enforced,” said Shaheen. “This bipartisan legislation is long overdue, and I urge leadership in Congress to allow for consideration in the near future. It’s absolutely imperative that the public be made aware of who is acting on behalf of foreign governments, particularly our adversaries, and it’s increasingly important to do so in a manner that respects the work of legitimate NGOs, media groups and civil society actors. I’m proud to support this legislation as it reinforces the intent of the original FARA law by enhancing enforcement.”
“The goal of FARA is to ensure that individuals working on behalf of a foreign government or business disclose those relationships,” said Feinstein. “The public has a right to know if a foreign government is spreading propaganda in the United States. Unfortunately, FARA has not been adequately enforced, giving a free pass to individuals who fail to register and abide by its rules. This bill will provide new authorities and resources to the Justice Department that will dramatically improve FARA enforcement and help protect the integrity of our electoral process.”
“Simply stated, the intent of this law is to prevent foreign countries from interfering in our government,” said Cornyn. “Many of these governments do not share our values and seek to exploit our system by anonymously employing agents to undermine American interests. This law will ensure greater public transparency by requiring agents to register with the Justice Department and providing meaningful enforcement mechanisms for those who do not.”
“Transparency is absolutely critical when individuals, groups or organizations in the United States are advocating on behalf of a foreign entity,” said Young. “Unfortunately, the DOJ inspector general has identified significant deficiencies in enforcing FARA. Last year, I introduced legislation to improve transparency and compliance with the law, and the bipartisan Foreign Agents Registration Amendments Act incorporates that legislation.”
Enacted in 1938, the Foreign Agents Registration Act requires that individuals, groups or organizations advocating on behalf of a foreign entity in the United States register with the Department of Justice (DOJ). The purpose of the law is to ensure the American public can clearly identify foreign propaganda and other information operations designed to influence U.S. policy and elections.
Last year, following intelligence reports that RT News operates as a propaganda outlet for the Russian government, Senator Shaheen introduced the Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act. The bipartisan legislation would give the DOJ new authority to investigate potential violations of FARA and compel organizations like RT America and Sputnik to produce documentation on funding sources and foreign connections. In November, RT announced that it would comply with the DOJ’s request and register as a foreign agent.
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