Cornyn, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Prevent Foreign Adversaries from Influencing U.S. Policy
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) today introduced the Preventing Adversary Influence, Disinformation and Obscured Foreign Financing Act (PAID OFF Act), which would help closeForeign Agents Registration Act registration loopholes that allow unregistered agents of foreign adversaries to lobby in the United States:
“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.”
“Corrupt foreign adversaries like Vladimir Putin exploit every weakness available to undermine the core American values of transparency and the rule of law,” said Sen. Whitehouse. “Our bill would shore up America’s defenses by closing a glaring loophole in our foreign agent reporting system. I’m pleased to join this important bipartisan effort.”
“For too long, exemptions in U.S. law have allowed many persons in the United States who are paid to actively promote the interests of Communist China and other strategic adversaries to avoid registering as foreign agents,” said Sen. Hagerty. “I’m pleased to co-sponsor the Preventing Adversary Influence, Disinformation, and Obscured Foreign Financing Act to end these exemptions. As nations like Communist China seek to exert new forms of foreign interference and malign influence in our democracy, laws governing the registration of foreign agents must keep pace with this evolving threat to U.S. national security.”
“I’m pleased to join this strong, bipartisan bill against foreign adversaries meddling in our legislative process,” said Sen. Fischer. “China, Russia, and other adversaries tirelessly seek to undermine our national interests and influence U.S. policy in their favor. Our legislation will stop individuals working for foreign powers from skirting disclosure laws that identifies them as such.”
“Federal law should not provide protection for entities who are willing to do business with our enemies,” said Sen. Rubio. “If a lobbyist or consultant wants to work with our adversaries to subvert American interests, we deserve to know about it. Our bill would ensure U.S. law no longer provides cover for these corrupt cronies.”
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 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 by executive order as China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and the Maduro regime.