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Copyright (c) 2010 Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law

ARTICLE: FOREIGN AGENTS: UPDATING FARA TO PROTECT AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

Summer, 2010

University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law

31 U. Pa. J. Int'l L. 1051

Author

JAHAD ATIEH *

Excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

Lobbying is inherently a result of Mancur Olson's collective action problem. "Small, homogeneous groups with strong communities of interest tend to be more effective suppliers of political pressure and political support (votes, campaign contributions, and the like) than larger groups whose interests are more diffuse." 1 As a result, lobbying reform is not undertaken until the public as a whole creates a coalition large enough to overcome the coercion created by a much smaller group of lobbyists. As noted by Congress, lobbying on behalf of foreign entities can have serious implications for national policy beyond the effects created by domestic lobbyists whose ultimate goal arguably still pertains to the betterment of American society. 2

In response to this perceived threat, Congress has tended to keep the regulation of lobbyists representing foreign principals more stringent than that of their domestic counterparts. The Foreign Agent Registration Act ("FARA") 3 is Congress's premier tool of regulation for foreign lobbyists. As I will explain below, the regulation of foreign lobbyists under FARA has historically been much more stringent than regulations for domestic lobbyists under the former Federal Regulation of Lobbyist Act of 1946 ("FRLA") and the current Lobbyist Disclosure Act of 1995 ("LDA"), by requiring more thorough disclosures and enacting harsher penalties for failing to register.

As lobbying has grown in the latter half of the twentieth century, its abuses have followed suit. Abuses by lobbyists often result in a "political scandal" that creates a public ...
 
 
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