Is Increased Disclosure Coming Under FARA?

Traditionally, lobbyists and other influencers working for international clients have reported the bare minimum in public record filings submitted under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.  In fact, law firms have largely avoided disclosure altogether due to an exemption for legal work, including their undertakings in leading the newly burgeoning field of legal communications, in which lawyers work with PR and other professionals to defend client reputations outside of court.  However, increased scrutiny on consulting work for foreign clients could bolster disclosure by lobbyists and consultants.  The New York Times highlighted a recent example of increased FARA disclosure, in which two law firms reported extensive legal communications work on behalf of a foreign client, even though one public relations vendor claimed its work was exempt from FARA requirements due to the nature of the work.  The FARA filings made by the law firms are available here and here.  The filing from a PR firm retained by one of the law firms available here

Enacted in 1938, FARA,  requires most consultants who lobby or assist with public relations in the United States for foreign individuals, companies, governments and political parties to provide periodic public disclosures of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.