THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is again cracking down on illegal foreign lobbying. Covington & Burling’s Brian D. Smith writes that federal prosecutors in Chicago have filed a criminal complaint against two lobbyists – Prince Asiel Ben Israel and C. Gregory Turner – who allegedly violated U.S. sanctions by lobbying on behalf of Zimbabwe and President Robert Mugabe. (See here a fact sheet on U.S.-Zimbabwean relations).
Two Chicago-area Democrats – Reps. Danny K. Davis and Bobby L. Rush – have been C” from California – has yet to be revealed.
This isn’t the first time that the feds have gone after lobbyists for illegal foreign lobbying. Smith writes that in 2009, Robert Cabelly, a former State Department official, violated U.S. sanctions by lobbying on behalf of Sudan. More recently, several lobbyists were charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by failing to disclose that they were lobbying on behalf of a foreign country while attempting to influence U.S. officials.
The government is sending a clear message: FARA and sanctions violators beware. As Smith notes, these recent cases demonstrate the importance for lobbyists to follow FARA to the letter. Noncompliance is simply not worth the risk.