The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a US think tank, is reporting that since 2000 at least 90, former members of Congress have registered as foreign agents, representing nearly half of all countries in the world. The report says the countries most represented by former lawmakers are in the Middle East and Asia and that this trend has only become more pronounced in recent years. According to a report by Responsible Statecraft:
June 28, 2022 It’s no secret that when members of Congress leave office, they turn to one profession above all others: lobbying. Year in and year out, it’s the same story of former elected officials selling their connections and knowledge of how to make things happen (or not happen) in Washington to high-paying special interests. While this lobbying is often done on behalf of American interests — like big pharmaceutical, banking, or weapons firms — former lawmakers have been lobbying on behalf of foreign interests more and more often in recent years. We analyzed Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings since 2000 and found that at least 90 former members of Congress have registered as foreign agents, representing nearly half (87) of all countries in the world, and the trend has only become more pronounced in recent years. This raises critically important questions for U.S. national interests and highlights the importance of legislation to combat the potential risks of former members of Congress working for foreign interests.
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The report says that Turkey has at least 16 former members of Congress working on its behalf, China has employed at least eight former members of Congress as lobbyists, and Saudi Arabia has benefited from the services of at least eight former members of Congress registered under FARA.
In June, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported that China had hired 12 former members of Congress to lobby for the country. Other recent GIOR reporting on US lobbying efforts by various influence actors has included:
- A May report highlighting China’s role as top spender on foreign influence operations in the US, with Chinese foreign agent spending skyrocketing from just over $10 million in 2016 to nearly $64 million in 2020.
- A May report on Qatar’s growing lobbying efforts in the US.
- An April report on an LA businessman imprisoned over unregistered lobbying for governments including Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Qatar.