It’s time to stop Foreign Agents from Lobbying our Government The real scandal comes from the fact that foreign lobbyists are able to buy off our congressmen and senators.

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Feb 19, 2018 No Comments ›› admin

By Lynn Woolley

How convenient. Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicts 13 Russians that are in Russia. None of them can be interrogated, waterboarded, or injected with sodium pentothal. In fact, there are reports that a Russian journalist published a lot of the same stuff Mueller said in his indictment – four months ago.

It’s not a big deal.

The real scandal about foreign interference in our political system comes from the fact that foreign lobbyists are able to buy off our congressmen and senators. You probably thought this type of thing is illegal. Nope. And it not well regulated either.

We could do a fix –and either ban all foreign lobbying in the United States, or tighten the disclosure rules. Unfortunately, few members of Congress have any desire to do so. There are rules in place, but they are very loose and those who lobby illegally are rarely caught and punished.

The Kremlin

The Michael Flynn case.

Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, was working for Turkey as a lobbyist while, at the same time, he was a part of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Flynn’s action opened him up to being investigated by Mueller – partly due to alleged lying to federal agents about his overseas contacts.

He’s not the only one. And remember, it takes two for lobbying to work. The lobbyist, usually someone with powerful government contacts that is hired by a foreign power – and someone in government willing to listen and take the action that the lobbyist is paid to secure. It’s sleazy, slimy, and often works to the detriment of America,

With regard to Flynn, we don’t know all the background concerning what Mueller has on him. More likely, it is something related to Russia.


Kleptocracy Initiative

Foreign lobbying the United States is under the auspices of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). Sometimes, powerful figures like Paul Manafort and Flynn forget to register and little is ever done about it.

FARA stipulates that foreign lobbyists must register with the department of Justice within 10 days of signing on with a foreign government. They are also required to file a copy of their contracts. Then, they are required to make semiannual reports on work performed for these clients. That includes payments and such — to include political contributions.

This explains why the rules are seldom enforced – except when a special counsel is going after a president he doesn’t like.

Note that President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul J. Manafort Jr. and his business partner Richard W. Gates III are charged with violating FARA. In all likelihood, if there had been no investigation into “Russian Collusion” between Trump and the Russians, there would have been no charges against Manafort. It makes you wonder how many other foreign lobbyists could be charged under this law.

The website KleptocracyInitiative has a “Quick Guide to U.S. Foreign Lobbying Laws.”

The site points out that these laws (FARA and LDA) are designed to restrict interference in our government by the governments of other countries. But it charges that much, if not most, of these activities remains undisclosed.

The site points out the main failings of FARA:

• Registrants are required to file informational materials only if they have been distributed to more than one individual. They should be required to file if they distribute any informational materials.
• Meetings between American officials and foreign nationals on behalf of foreign politicians which take place abroad are not subject to registration or documentation. They should be.
• Some registration documents are submitted electronically, others by mail or by hand, which convolutes submission dates. To improve consistency and transparency, all filings should be submitted digitally to an online database and immediately available to the public.
• No special filings are required when lobbyists make potentially suspicious political donations—even, for example, when they have met with politicians about their clients’ interests on the same day. This practice must end.
• Only 12 to 15 compliance inspections take place each year. Resources must be made available to enable frequent, detailed inspections.
• FARA’s criminal burden of proof makes it almost impossible to successfully prosecute cases of non-compliance. These should be replaced with civil measures, which enable feasible and proportionate enforcement.

The website reports, efforts to fix these shortcomings typically die in Congress.

That means just one thing: members of Congress do not want a fix. Yet many of them, in the old days, Republicans and in today’s climate, Democrats, constantly harp on foreign interference in our elections.

People Adam “Shifty” Schiff D-CA can’t complain enough about it. And yet, the Democrats were silent until Hillary Clinton lost. Flynn and Manafort are small fish compared to the Clintons. Bill and Hillary may not have violated FARA, but they sold secrets and pardons while in the White House, then put classified information on an unprotected home server, (Bill) made a $500,000 speech in Russia and (Hillary) signed off on the Uranium One deal.

If we want foreign interference in our country to stop we might try two things: investigating the Clintons and puting an end to foreign lobbying in our country altogether.

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