A newly uncovered letter reveals that U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Senator Chuck Grassley, wrote U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on November 15, 2017 with serious concerns about Haley Barbour’s lobbying firm BGR Government Affairs. Grassley’s concerns centered around BGR Government Affairs‘ lobbying involvement on behalf of Uranium One, which is a Canadian based company that is owned by the Russian government. Barbour is listed on the BGR’s website as a founding partner and is active in the firms lobbying efforts.
Two weeks prior to Grassley’s letter to Sessions, on October 30th, 2017, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted by the federal grand jury on 12 counts; one of which was conspiracy against the United States for being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). (Manafort and Gates indictment below article.)
In Grassley’s November 15th to Attorney General Jeff Sessions he states,
Today, I write concerning lobbying work done by three lobbying firms – the Podesta Group, BGR Government Affairs, and Kountoupes Denham – on behalf of Uranium One, a Canadian company owned by the Russian government. All firms lobbied both houses of Congress, and the executive branch. None of the firms have registered under FARA for their representation. However, at the time of representation Uranium One was owned by the Russian government-owned company, Rosatom.”
Grassley’s letter went on to state that Barbor’s BGR Government Affairs lobbying firm,
‘[p]rovid[ed] strategic counsel and assistance regarding the CFIUS process’ and continued representation after CFIUS approved Rosantom’s acquisition of Uranium One.
Grassley further noted in his letter to Sessions,
The FARA requires individuals to register with the Department of Justice (DOJ) if they act , even through an intermediary, “as an agent, representative, employee, or servant” or “in any other capacity” at the behest of a foreign principal, including a foreign political party, for purposes of engagement with a United States official. The registration applies to anyone who attempts to influence a U.S. government official on behalf of a foreign principal in an effort to “formulat[e], adopt, or chang[e] the domestic of foreign politics of the United States.”
Senator Grassley’s November 15th letter requesed clarification from Sessions as to why the three firms mentioned in the letter, including Barbour’s, were not charged with FARA violations. Grassley listed the following four items to which he wanted a response:
1. Please explain why DOJ required FARA registration for the Podesta Group and Mercury LLC for work on behalf of the European Center for Modern Ukraine (ECFMU) but has not required the Podesta Group, BGR Government Affairs, or Kountoupes Denham to register under FARA for work on behalf of Uranium One.
2. What actions has the Justice Department taken to access whether the Podesta Group, BGR Government Affairs, and Kountoupes Denham should have registered under FARA for work on behalf of Uranium One?
3. Has the Justice Department sent a letter of inquiry to any of the entities? If so, please provide a copy. If not, why not?
4. Under 28 C.F.R 5.2, any present or prospective agent of a foreign entity may request an advisory opinion from the Justice Department regarding the need to register. Has any of the entities ever requested one in relation to their work on behalf of Uranium One? If so, please provide a copy of the request and opinion.
According to www.fara.gov,
Failure to file any such registration statement or supplements thereto as is required by the Act shall be considered a continuing offense for as long as such failure exists, notwithstanding any statute of limitation or other statute to the contrary. Any person who willfully violates any provisions of this Act or any regulations thereunder, shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than five years. For some offenses the punishment shall be a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.
The purpose of FARA is to ensure that the U.S. Government and the people of the United States are informed of the source of information (propaganda) and the identity of persons attempting to influence U.S. public opinion, policy, and laws.
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Chuck Grassley’s, letter to Jeff Sessions
Paul Manifort’s Indictment