Law360 Quotes Matthew Sanderson on DOJ's FARA Enforcement
Federal prosecutors saw the lobbying-law charge in their criminal case against a former Skadden partner thrown out Tuesday, but the loss won't muddy the U.S. Department of Justice message that the era of tolerance of clandestine public-relations work for overseas governments is over.
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The allegations underlying the remaining count still covers the bulk of the alleged scheme to head-fake FARA officials, said Matthew T. Sanderson of Caplin & Drysdale, leaving the government's narrative still viable for trial.
Sanderson, a political law and lobbying regulation expert, said the dismissal could even help the government by making it easier to keep jurors engaged. The planned 2½-week trial promises to get into obscure issues of lobbying regulation, reams of lawyer-on-lawyer email, and Ukrainian politics circa 2012.
"This cuts both ways," he said. "The dismissal lowers for Craig the maximum possible penalty, and it simplifies the government's case and might even nudge up the possibility of getting a conviction."
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Caplin & Drysdale's Sanderson argued that the dismissal of the FARA false statement charge would put the department in a position to say the case "wasn't a loss" in terms of the FARA push if Craig is acquitted. If he's not, the case will stand as a major warning about the potential consequences of crossing the FARA line.
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