Not all money-in-politics flows from domestic sources. That’s why last year we launched our Foreign Lobby Watch (FLW) tool to disseminate critical public data on foreign lobbying, and lobbying by foreign governments, companies and individuals.
Since inheriting the project from the Sunlight Foundation, we have been compiling thousands of filings going back eight decades when the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was first passed in 1938. FARA requires that agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a "political or quasi-political capacity disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related activities and finances. We made these records searchable by country, lobbyist or political operative, registrant, foreign principle, and more. Try doing that in 1938!
The bottom line is ... it’s every American’s right to know which foreign interests are trying to influence U.S. policy, and how much they are spending to meet their goals.
How you can help:
It should not come as a surprise that as the “indispensable" nation the United States has many foreign entities trying to influence it. From governments to multi-national corporations, and other players paying foreign agents to influence U.S. policy and public opinion, it can be disorienting. We are committed to ensuring that every American has easy access to exploring these actors and spotting foreign influence.
With your support, we will:
● Continue to standardize existing data, allowing us to link it to other relevant data sets.
● Enhance FLW’s search functions and develop new tools, allowing us and others to discover new connections between FARA data and data from other sources ( e.g., domestic lobbying data, campaign contributions, Congressional bill sponsorship, etc.).
● Increase the number of reporting partnerships to enhance and improve coverage of foreign lobbying efforts, revealing the networks and activities of those involved in both influencing and making policy.
● Improve public knowledge around foreign lobbying, through the production of online guides, as well as in-person and online webinars on the use of the FLW tool, like this one.