Foreign Influence Peddlers Show Face in Wake of Manafort Woes

Foreign Agent registrations have spiked since former Trump aide indictment

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse after a court hearing in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It will be months before we know the full extent of Paul Manafort’s impact on the culture of Washington influence peddling. 

But as Manafort’s trial continues this week, this much is already clear: the former Trump aide’s legal woes have made the world of D.C. lobbyists who work for foreign governments slightly less murky.

Dozens of lobbyists, law firms, and consultants have declared their work as foreign agents to the U.S. government since the news first broke in 2016 that investigators were probing the millions of undisclosed payments Manafort had received from the Ukrainian government. 

The Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, states that every person working on behalf of a foreign entity must register with the Justice Department.

FARA regstrations-01

The increase of more than 80 active registrants in the last year is more than triple the rate of previous increases in active registrations. 

Manafort faces charges that include money laundering and failure to register as a foreign agent, as required under an oft-ignored law.

The case prompted speculation that other Washington lobbyists would review their compliance with foreign lobbying rules. Lawmakers from both parties have meanwhile called for FARA to be overhauled and outside groups have called for improvements in the way the information is collected and stored.  


FARA was passed in 1938 over concerns about Nazi propaganda agents operating in the United States before World War II. Until Manafort’s 2017 indictment, it was rarely enforced. 

Watch: What I Learned From 4 Days Covering the Manafort Trial

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