Sending Office: Honorable David N. Cicilline
Strengthen Requirements for Foreign Agent Registration
I would like to bring your attention to a new report by the Atlantic Council, “Agent of Influence: Should Russia’s RT Register as a Foreign Agent?“, which
highlights the need to update the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). As you may know, under FARA, individuals, groups, and organizations advocating on behalf of a foreign government are required to register with, and report their activities to the Department
of Justice so that the American public may more clearly identify foreign propaganda or other disinformation campaigns. While there are exemptions for certain news organizations, they are limited to primarily U.S.-owned organizations that operate fully independent
of influence from a foreign government. However, some organizations have been able to avoid FARA registration requirements by structuring their business operations to appear autonomous from foreign governments.
This report details how RT America has been able to disassociate itself from the Russian government by establishing an autonomous nonprofit organization to finance its US operations. This is despite the fact that the Kremlin spends $190 million a year on
the distribution and dissemination of RT programming.
In order to remedy this, I have introduced the bipartisan Foreign Agents Registration Modernization Act (H.R. 2811). The Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act of 2017 would strengthen the foreign agent registration
process by providing the Justice Department with increased investigative authority to identify and prosecute entities that seek to unlawfully influence the political process. Specifically, this legislation would allow the DOJ to compel the production of documents
from any person or entity, consistent with established investigatory procedure, as part of an investigation relevant to compliance with FARA. Currently, the DOJ would only have the authority to compel the production of such documentation after initiating
a civil or criminal proceeding. H.R. 2811 would also streamline and update the FARA reporting process and registration fee requirements. Under the Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act of 2017, the DOJ would be able to obtain
documents detailing RT America’s funding sources and foreign connections.
I ask that you join me in strengthening existing laws to safeguard against foreign influence in US institutions. If you would like to sign on as a cosponsor of the Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act of 2017, or have any
further questions, please contact Renuka Nagaraj in Congressman Cicilline’s office (Renuka.Nagaraj@mail.house.gov).
DAVID N. CICILLINE
Member of Congress
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0