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Bipartisan ‘Fighting Foreign Influence Act’ Targets Foreign US Think Tank Funding 

June 22nd, 2022 14:21

The Quin­cy Insti­tute for Respon­si­ble State­craft, a US think tank, is report­ing that a new bipar­ti­san bill has been intro­duced in the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives address­ing the dan­gers of for­eign influ­ences seek­ing to cor­rupt US elec­tions, gov­ern­ment offi­cials, and think tanks. Accord­ing to THE REPORT:

June 16, 2022 Just four days after the res­ig­na­tion of Brook­ings pres­i­dent John Allen, fol­low­ing the dis­clo­sure of a fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion into whether he secret­ly lob­bied for Qatar, new leg­is­la­tion has been intro­duced in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives address­ing the dan­gers of for­eign influ­ences seek­ing to cor­rupt U.S. elec­tions, gov­ern­ment offi­cials, and think tanks.  The leg­is­la­tion, “Fight­ing For­eign Influ­ence Act,” spon­sored by Rep. Jared Gold­en (D‑ME), would require tax exempt orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing think tanks, to dis­close large con­tri­bu­tions from for­eign gov­ern­ments or for­eign polit­i­cal par­ties, impose a life­time ban on for­mer U.S. mil­i­tary offi­cers, pres­i­dents, vice pres­i­dents, senior exec­u­tive branch offi­cials, and mem­bers of Con­gress from lob­by­ing for for­eign prin­ci­pals, and require polit­i­cal cam­paigns to ver­i­fy that online dona­tions can be tied to a valid U.S. address.  “Non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions and par­ti­san think tanks play an out­sized role in shap­ing pub­lic opin­ion and influ­enc­ing pol­i­cy deci­sions in the Unit­ed States,” said Rep. Lance Good­en (R‑TX), in a press release. “We must under­stand where these groups get their fund­ing, who influ­ences their agen­da, and if adver­sar­i­al nations are using non-prof­it groups to under­mine the Unit­ed States. The Fight­ing For­eign Influ­ence Act would ensure there is final­ly trans­paren­cy and account­abil­i­ty in the non-prof­it sector.”

Read the rest here.

The report notes that the new bill’s spon­sors cit­ed a 2020 study on for­eign fund­ing of US think tanks that revealed how at least $174 mil­lion flowed from for­eign gov­ern­ments to US think tanks between 2014 and 2018.

This week, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report report­ed that the pres­i­dent of the influ­en­tial Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion resigned Sun­day amid a fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion into whether he ille­gal­ly lob­bied on behalf of Qatar. We have pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed that Qatar has been ramp­ing up its lob­by­ing efforts in the US, eager to cul­ti­vate a clos­er rela­tion­ship with the Biden admin­is­tra­tion and Con­gress. Oth­er GIOR report­ing on for­eign lob­by­ing efforts in the US has included:

  • In Feb­ru­ary, we report­ed that many US lob­by­ing firms were cut­ting ties with their Russ­ian clients due to Rus­si­a’s inva­sion of Ukraine.
  • In Novem­ber, we report­ed that Turkey hired at least eleven US lob­by firms in 2020.
  • In May 2021, we report­ed that Chi­na had become the 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.