The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) may date back to the World War II era, but it has taken on a renewed prominence in American politics and the legal industry. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guilty of failing to register as an agent for Ukraine; Attorney Gregory Craig, a former Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner, is fighting off suggestions that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent.
With all the heightened scrutiny, the Center for Responsive Politics earlier this month launched “Foreign Lobby Watch,” a searchable database of information disclosed under FARA on its website OpenSecrets.org. The data show which organizations earned the most as foreign agents, and which governments or overseas groups – called “foreign principals – paid them. The law requires entities to register for a wide range of lobbying activity in the U.S., not just engaging with Congress.
Law.com identified two dozen firms in the Am Law 200 that filed foreign lobbying disclosures in 2017 and analyzed where the money came from. The numbers show that lobbying on behalf of foreign entities is serious business for at least some major law firms. With questions remaining over the future of FARA enforcement, advising on disclosure is also becoming a newly booming practice area.