Pfluger Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Block Foreign Adversaries from Lobbying the U.S. Government
Washington, D.C., October 19, 2022 | Lyssa Bell
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives August Pfluger (TX-11) and Jason Crow (CO-6) introduced the Preventing Adversary Influence, Disinformation and Obscured Foreign Financing Act (PAID OFF Act), to close loopholes that allow unregistered agents of foreign adversaries to lobby in the United States. The legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). It is also included in the manager’s amendment of the Senate NDAA.
“The United States must remain vigilant in preventing foreign adversaries from influencing our government and policymaking,” said Rep. Pfluger. “I am proud to introduce this legislation to advance U.S. national security and close loopholes so unregistered agents from places like China and Russia from influencing our policymaking process.
“For far too long, the Foreign Agents Registration Act’s lobbyist loophole has allowed adversaries like Russia and the Chinese Communist Party to operate in the shadows and spread misinformation within our democracy. I’m proud to work across the aisle with Representative Pfluger to close the loophole, end the corrupt influence of foreign adversaries, and protect our national security,” said Rep. Crow.
“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.,” said Sen. Cornyn. “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.”
The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) has not been amended since the 1990s, and the law has not kept up with modern foreign adversary influence campaigns using commercial activities and registration loopholes as a subterfuge to spread disinformation. Currently, agents representing foreign adversaries are able to avoid FARA registration by taking advantage of the commercial activities and Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) exemptions to avoid disclosing their lobbying efforts to the DOJ. This legislation would make it easier for the U.S. government to catch these unregistered agents in the act by removing the commercial activities and LDA registration exemptions that make it easy for foreign agents to lobby for America’s adversaries without having to disclose that they are being paid by a foreign adversary government. Foreign adversaries of the United States are defined as the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Cuba, and the Syrian Arab Republic.