Mar 1, 2021 | Rep. Omar Reintroduces PAUL Act to Crack Down on Foreign Lobbyists
MINNEAPOLIS—Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) today reintroduced the Protect Against Unlawful Lobbying (PAUL) Act, which strengthens the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and makes sure that lobbyists representing foreign countries act in good faith and operate with full transparency. The bill is a core part of H.R. 1, the For the People Act, expected to be introduced this week.
“We will not be able to achieve the transformative change Minnesotans and Americans need without an open and transparent democracy,” said Rep. Omar. “We must ensure that lobbyists who represent foreign governments operate in full transparency and good faith, and are not able to unduly influence our elected officials. I was proud that this reform was included in last year's HR 1 bill to reform our democracy, and I look forward to this becoming law under President Joe Biden.”
The bill requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to establish a separate unit for the investigation and enforcement of provisions requiring registration of foreign agents. It provides DOJ with the authority to impose civil monetary penalties for violations and requires foreign agents to disclose transactions involving things of financial value conferred on officeholders by foreign principals. It is named after Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States in connection with his failure to register under FARA as an agent of the government of Ukraine. Manafort also pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with FARA-related false statements and misrepresentations to the Department of Justice in violation of both FARA and the general false-statements statute.
In 2019, the bill was included in the For the People Act, a set of historic reforms designed to end the culture of corruption in Washington. The bill would end the dominance of unchecked corporate money in our politics, remove the substantial barriers to voting for low-income communities and people of color, ban gerrymanders, and give full voting rights and self-government to the voters of Washington, D.C.
Rep. Omar recently called for a bold reimagining of our democratic processes following the armed insurrection on January 6th in the Atlantic.
The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Holmes Norton, Pocan, and Pressley.
You can read the full legislation here.