Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Charles Lawson

First Page



This note discusses the changes made to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (LDA) and evaluates the impact of those changes. FARA's regulatory regime has long been criticized for its loopholes. FARA's historical focus on foreign propagandists has also been condemned as out of step with the modern political environment in the United States, where foreign" lobbyists" are seen as a serious threat to government integrity. In response to such criticisms, the LDA endeavored to reform FARA so as to increase compliance levels among foreign lobbyists seeking to influence the U.S. political process. The changes made to FARA in this reform effort include: important "definitional" changes, the elimination of the lawyer exemption to FARA, and needed improvements in the registration process itself. The author concludes that, while the reforms are laudable and have the potential for bringing more foreign lobbyists under FARA's regulatory imperative, until the further steps of bolstering the ranks and enforcement powers of the FARA administrators are taken, the ideal of a comprehensively-enforced FARA will remain elusive.