Washington (CNN)Paul Manafort is expected to retroactively file as a foreign agent after failing to disclose his prior work for a foreign government.
It won’t be the first time that it is done less than eagerly.
Lobbyists representing foreign governments are required to disclose their work in extensive detail to the Department of Justice thanks to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The registrations ask lobbyists about the services they plan to provide for foreign principals, about money they’ve received from foreign governments and about any public relations work they will do on behalf of certain clients.
The disclosures go well beyond what is typically asked of US lobbyists doing work for American political or corporate clients. That work is spelled out on Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) forms, which are far less invasive — and unsurprisingly — far more preferred by lobbyists.
If lobbyists filed under the LDA, they do not need to file under FARA as well.
Lawyers for Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, are in discussions with the Justice Department, and he is expected to register as a foreign agent in a bid to resolve questions about his past work for Ukraine, according to sources briefed on the talks.
Manafort’s firm did consulting work for a nonprofit called European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which was closely tied to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yankovych’s Party of Regions, sources tell CNN.
But lobbyists at times will argue that clients like the European Centre are merely foreign advocacy organizations, and not technically a foreign government or political party.
Holland and Knight, a Washington lobbying and law firm, however, warns against lobbyists choosing LDA as a matter of convenience.
“If the lobbying is on behalf of a foreign principal and is meant to influence the US government or any portion of the US public regarding US policy toward a foreign place, then the choice is limited to FARA,” a company blog post reads.
Manafort and his lobbying firm have been under FBI and Justice Department scrutiny as part of a broader anti-corruption probe of Yanukovych. Manafort is expected to register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent representing Ukraine’s interests between 2012 and 2014, the sources said.
One of the lobbying groups that Manafort’s firm worked with, the Podesta Group, filed a foreign agent registration Wednesday.