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The Foreign Agents Registration Act: Recent Trends and Proposed Reforms

Level: Intermediate
Runtime: 62 minutes
Recorded Date: June 13, 2022
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• Grasp the meaning of “agency” under FARA
• Understand what activities are covered under FARA
• Recognize how and when FARA exemptions apply 

Runtime: 1 hour, 2 minutes
Recorded: June 13, 2022

For NY - Difficulty Level: For both newly admitted & experienced attorneys


The Department of Justice is rewriting its rules under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Panelists will discuss this reform effort, as well as recent FARA trends.
Attendees will be able to:
  • Understand possible outcomes of the Dept. of Justice's ongoing reform effort.
  • Identify ongoing trends and priorities in FARA enforcement.
  • Apply FARA's terms and concepts to basic factual scenarios. 

This program was recorded on June 13th, 2022.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Matthew T. Sanderson

Claplin & Drysdale Chtd

Matthew T. Sanderson is a co-leader of the Political Law Group and a Member in the Exempt Organizations Group.
Mr. Sanderson helps corporations, political committees, lobbying firms, law firms, candidates, and advocacy groups comply with the complex federal, state, and local laws that govern political activity, including campaign finance, "pay-to-play," government ethics, and lobbying disclosure regulations. Mr. Sanderson also advises clients on the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and defends parties before the Department of Justice and Congress that face FARA-related inquiries.
Mr. Sanderson has served as counsel to Senator John McCain, Senator Mitt Romney, Governor Jon Huntsman Jr., and many other candidates for national office. He was a legal consultant for Netflix’s hit series House of Cards and received the Peabody Award, alongside Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report team, for efforts related to the “Colbert Super PAC.” Mr. Sanderson was also a founder of PlayoffPAC.
Mr. Sanderson is the co-editor of Thomson Reuters’ legal treatise on political law, a member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Election Law, a co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Task Force on the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and an Adjunct Faculty Member at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he teaches an advanced course on campaign finance regulation. He serves as editor of, a comprehensive online resource of information about the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Mr. Sanderson is frequently quoted on political matters in national media outlets, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Associated Press. He is also a Trustee for the American Council of Young Political Leaders, a nonprofit that connects rising political leaders in the U.S. and around the world.

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David H. Laufman

Wiggin & Dana LLP

David is a member of the firm’s White Collar Defense, Investigations and Corporate Compliance Practice Group; a member of the International Trade Compliance Practice Group; and Co-Chair of the National Security Practice Group. David’s defense and compliance practice at Wiggin and Dana draws heavily on his extensive experience in government enforcement and national security affairs, most recently as Chief of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES) in the National Security Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

David represents companies and individuals in federal white-collar criminal investigations and regulatory enforcement actions, as well as in congressional investigations, Inspector General investigations, and national security matters, including transactions subject to review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). He also counsels companies and individuals regarding compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), U.S. export control and sanctions laws, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and government ethics laws.

When serving as Chief of CES, David oversaw the investigation and prosecution of offenses concerning U.S. export control and economic sanctions, foreign agent registration and disclosure, atomic energy and counterproliferation, espionage, the theft of trade secrets and other proprietary intellectual property benefiting a foreign government or instrumentality (economic espionage), cyber intrusions by nation states and their proxies, and the unauthorized retention and disclosure of classified information. Among his accomplishments as Chief of CES, David spearheaded DOJ’s increased enforcement of FARA; oversaw the criminal prosecution of ZTE Corporation, a leading Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer, for violations concerning U.S. sanctions against Iran; played a major role in negotiating a Non-Prosecution Agreement with Netcracker Technology Corporation, a global software company, resulting in the imposition of enhanced security protocols in software development; and co-authored both DOJ’s Strategic Plan for Export Control and Sanctions Enforcement and its Guidance Regarding Voluntary Self-Disclosures, Cooperation, and Remediation in Export Control and Sanctions Investigations Involving Business Organizations.

While Chief of CES, David also played a leadership role in two of the most sensitive investigations in the recent history of the Department of Justice. He oversaw the investigation of Hillary Clinton concerning allegations that classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on a personal email server during her tenure as Secretary of State. Prior to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III, David also oversaw the investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Previously, David served as a federal prosecutor and a senior official at DOJ’s highest operational and policy levels. As Chief of Staff to the Deputy Attorney General from 2001 to 2003, he assisted in the day-to-day management of DOJ and helped to coordinate its responses to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Afterward, he served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, where he prosecuted terrorism, export control, and other national security offenses. David also later served as a Special Trial Attorney to the Fraud Section at DOJ, where, on detail from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (“SIGIR”), he investigated and prosecuted procurement fraud and corruption related to U.S. economic assistance to Iraq.

David has received several awards for his work as a litigator. In 2006, he received the John Marshall Award for Outstanding Legal Achievement, DOJ’s highest award for excellence in litigation, for his trial work as lead prosecutor in the terrorism case United States v. Abu Ali. In 2007, David received the FBI Director’s Award for Outstanding Counterterrorism Investigation for his work in United States v. Khan (“the Virginia Jihad case”). In 2011, he received the Award for Excellence in Investigation from the Council of the Inspector Generals for Integrity and Efficiency for his work in the case of United States v. Ayesh, which resulted in new judicial precedent regarding the extraterritorial application of federal conflict-of-interest laws.

David also draws on his extensive experience in government ethics and public corruption investigations. From 1992 to 1993, he served as Senior Associate Minority Counsel to the Task Force to Investigate Certain Allegations Concerning the Holding of American Hostages by Iran in 1980 (“October Surprise Task Force”), a special bipartisan panel of the U.S. House of Representatives. Subsequently, he served as Associate Independent Counsel in the Investigation Concerning the Search of William J. Clinton’s Passport Files during the 1992 Presidential Election Campaign. From 1996 to 2000, David served as Investigative Counsel to the Ethics Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he conducted ethics investigations of Members of Congress and coordinated the sanctions hearing of then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Following the Gingrich case, he played a central role in crafting and negotiating changes to the ethics rules of the House of Representatives in his capacity as Assistant to the Special Counsel to the Ethics Reform Task Force. David also conducted professional misconduct investigations for the Office of Professional Responsibility at DOJ before becoming Chief of Staff to the Deputy Attorney General.

David is the author of numerous publications and has provided expert commentary to prominent news organizations and programs, including The New York Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, BBC World News America, MSNBC, and CNN. His legal accomplishments also have been featured in the Wall Street Journal.

David was born in Houston, Texas, where he attended St. John's School. He received his bachelor's degree in 1979 from the University of Pennsylvania, graduating magna cum laude with distinction in international relations. He received his law degree in 1987 from Georgetown University Law Center. He is also the author of numerous publications and has provided expert commentary to prominent news organizations and programs, including The New York Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, BBC World News America, MSNBC, and CNN. His legal accomplishments also have been featured in the Wall Street Journal.

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