In light of the recent arrests of eleven individuals accused of spying for the Russian government, Lobby Blog thought this would be as good a time as ever to review the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was passed prior to World War II in response to Nazi propaganda in the United States. Nowadays, FARA applies to individuals and organizations engaging in political activities for a foreign principal, working in public relations for a foreign principal, buying or selling something of value in the United States, and lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of a foreign principal.
If you don’t register, you could be a spy. But you’d be the kind that goes to jail, not the cool Jason Bourne kind.
So just who is a foreign principal? Foreign principals can include foreign governments, foreign political parties, persons located outside of the United States, and foreign entities.
Anyone needing to register under FARA should be aware of the different forms required.
- Registration Statement: The initial form filed at the organization level.
- Supplemental Statement: A six month report form filed at the organization level.
- Short-Form Registration Statement: Each individual appearing on a registration statement must file his/her own short-form registration statement.
So, if your relationship with a foreign principal doesn’t involve placing garbage bags full of classified information underneath park bridges in Northern Virginia, make sure to file your FARA forms. And if it does, consider activating the Cone of Silence.