Sunlight Foundation Releases First Online Foreign Agent Lobbying Database

For Immediate Release

Sunlight Foundation
Contact: 

Gabriela Schneider 202-742-1520

Sunlight Foundation Releases First Online Foreign Agent Lobbying Database

WASHINGTON - In its continuing effort to make hard to access government data
accessible with the click of a mouse, the Sunlight Foundation is
releasing a beta version of FARAdb,
which digitizes disclosures filed by lobbyists representing 15 foreign
countries required by the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

These
reports are filed twice a year by firms hired to lobby Congress and the
executive branch by foreign governments, political parties, individuals
and organizations-including for-profit companies. The lobbying firms
disclose specific details about which government officials, including
members of Congress and their staffs, were contacted by lobbyists for
each client, and gives details about what specific issues were
discussed. The firms must also disclose all the campaign donations made
by their employees who lobby for foreign clients.

As detailed in blog posts on "Real Time Investigations,"
these 15 countries alone have spent more than $67 million in fees and
expenses to lobbying firms working to largely improve their image and
push selected issues in the United States. According to FARA reports,
lobbyists from these countries also gave Senator McCain $97,000 between
the latter part of 2005 to the end of 2007. Obama received $11,000 from
lobbyists for these countries as disclosed on their FARA supplemental
forms.

"This experimental database shows in more detail how lobbyists
representing foreign clients try to influence public policy, who they
approach, and what they're after," said Bill Allison, senior fellow at
the Sunlight Foundation. "Given the influence lobbyists have on our
political process, shouldn't we have the same level of disclosure for
all lobbyists?"

Sunlight hopes to expand this dataset and add more countries and
release an updated version of this information in the coming months.

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The Sunlight Foundation supports, develops and deploys new Internet technologies to make information about Congress and the federal government more accessible to the American people. Through its projects and grant-making, Sunlight serves as a catalyst to create greater political transparency and to foster more openness and accountability in government. Visit SunlightFoundation.com to learn more about Sunlight's projects, including PublicMarkup.org, EarmarkWatch.org and OpenCongress.org.

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