POLITICO Quotes Matthew Sanderson on FARA Modernization Bill
BIPARTISAN LAWMAKERS UNVEIL FARA MODERNIZATION BILL: A bipartisan group of lawmakers in both the House and Senate unveiled a bill today with the aim of standardizing FARA registrations and making filings more easily accessible — an incremental improvement that falls far short of what FARA experts recommend to modernize the World War II-era law to track foreign influence efforts in the U.S.
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The bill would require the Justice Department to create a standardized and easily searchable electronic database of FARA filings, an improvement over the clunky website the department currently uses. “It's a very minor tweak, to require the department to do something that it has been trying to do for a long time, which is make database information more accessible,” said Caplin & Drysdale’s Matt Sanderson, who co-chairs FARA reform task force at the American Bar Association.
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FARA experts didn’t deny that the filing process could use a revamp. But there’s still a long way to go, they said. “There are more fundamental, critical reforms that are essential to facilitate compliance with the law and understanding of how the Justice Department enforces it,” said Wiggin & Dana’s David Laufman, a former FARA enforcer and Sanderson’s other co-chair on the ABA task force. Brandon Van Grack, a former FARA chief now at the law firm Morrison & Foerster, wrote in a tweet that “there's a lot of other low hanging FARA fruit for Congress to pick.”
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Sanderson told PI that it was worth reading into the FARM Act’s sponsors, calling interest from different corners of the Republican conference and Democratic caucus maybe even more important than the substance of the bill, suggesting that it speaks to the “appetite for reform on both sides of the aisle,” and the foundation for potential package of other reforms, though such efforts more recently have stalled on the Hill.
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