Monday, February 14, 2022

New FARA Advisory Opinions Address Think Tanks

Here is more from Politico:

NEW FARA ADVISORY OPINIONS FOCUS ON NONPROFITS: The Justice Department this week released another batch of Foreign Agents Registration Act advisory opinions, several of which touched on the FARA statute’s exemption for nonprofits, think tanks, charitable organizations, and academic and religious institutions, an issue rarely addressed by the letters, which guide lawyers advising lobbyists on whether or not they need to register as foreign agents.

— Taken with DOJ’s plans to offer up new FARA regulations, the focus on nonprofit activity in the latest batch of opinions signals that “the Justice Department does not appear inclined to carve out — at this time — exceptions for nonprofits as a group,” Brandon Van Grack, a former head of the FARA Unit now a the law firm Morrison & Foerster, said in an interview. “I think the big takeaway is that there is no special treatment for nonprofits.”

 — Van Grack noted that there is still uncertainty surrounding nonprofits’ obligations to register under FARA in certain situations, in part because DOJ is wary of creating exceptions that foreign governments and organizations could exploit, but argued that on the whole there was “nothing in the content of the analysis that necessarily jumped out as surprising” or that broke new ground.


As has been noted, nearly all think tanks currently consider themselves qualified for FARA's exemption for "bona fide" religious, academic, or scientific pursuits.

Think Tank Watch will be watching closely to see if any think tanks start registering under FARA.