WASHINGTON – US Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) presented the today Adverse Influence, Disinformation, and Covert Foreign Funding Prevention Act (PAID Act) which would help with closingForeign Agent Registration Act Registration loopholes allowing unregistered foreign adversary agents to lobby in the United States:
“To stop underhanded attempts by our enemies to influence American politics, it is critical that we close the loopholes that allow the worst criminals to spend millions of dollars on disinformation campaigns in the United States.” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation would prevent opponents like China and Russia from engaging in ‘ghost lobbying’ by requiring foreign agents to register political activity and disclose it to the Justice Department.”
“Corrupt foreign adversaries like Vladimir Putin are exploiting every available weakness to undermine core American values of transparency and the rule of law.” said Senator Whitehouse. “Our bill would strengthen America’s defenses by filling a glaring loophole in our foreign agent reporting system. I am pleased to join this important cross-party effort.”
“For too long, exceptions to US law have allowed many individuals in the United States who are paid to actively advance the interests of Communist China and other strategic opponents not to register as foreign agents.” said Sen. Hagerty. “I am pleased to co-sponsor the Prevention of Adversary Influence, Disinformation and Covert Foreign Funding Act to end these exceptions. As nations like communist China seek new forms of foreign interference and malign influence on our democracy, foreign agent registration laws must keep pace with this evolving threat to U.S. national security.”
“I am pleased to join this strong, bipartisan bill against foreign opponents interfering in our legislative process,” said Senator Fischer. “China, Russia and other adversaries tirelessly seek to undermine our national interests and sway US policy in their favour. Our legislation will prevent persons working for foreign powers from circumventing disclosure laws that identify them as such.”
“Federal law should not protect companies willing to do business with our enemies,” Senator Rubio said. “If a lobbyist or adviser wants to work with our opponents to undermine American interests, we deserve to know about it. Our bill would ensure that US law no longer provides protection for these corrupt cronies.”
That Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) has not changed since the 1990s, and the law has not kept up with modern-day campaigns to influence foreign adversaries, who use commercial activities and registry loopholes as a pretext to spread disinformation. Currently, agents representing foreign adversaries can bypass FARA registration by exploiting the commercial activities and Lobbying Disclosure Act(LDA) exemptions to avoid disclosure of their lobbying work to the DOJ. This legislation would make it easier for the US government to catch these unregistered agents in the act by removing the commercial activities and exemptions from LDA registration that make it easier for foreign agents to lobby America’s opponents without disclosing too need that they be paid by a foreign opposing government. Foreign opponents of the United States are defined by executive order as China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and the Maduro regime.