9:24 AM, Sep 21, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Matthew Continetti, writing for the Washington Free Beacon:
Foreign governments and their citizens are forbidden from contributing to U.S. elections. If a foreign government hires a lobbyist to influence the legislative or executive branches of the United States, that lobbyist must disclose his contracts and activities with the Justice Department in compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act. FARA is so strict that it applies not only to lobbyists, but to any American who works within the United States to influence our politics on behalf of a foreign interest. Break the law, and you go to jail.
Yet there is a loophole for foreign contributions to U.S. think tanks. And today that loophole is being exploited to an extent that mocks the very purpose of FARA. Earlier this month, the New York Timespublished a blockbuster report on foreign influence over D.C. nonprofits. Its conclusion: “Since 2011, at least 64 governments, state-controlled entities, or government officials have contributed to a group of 28 major United States-based research organizations, according to disclosures by the institutions and government documents.”
These institutions, the Times suggests, have received “a minimum of $92 million in contributions or commitments from overseas government interests over the last four years.” But who knows. “The total is certainly more.”
The report generated well-deserved outrage. A rule change has been introduced in the House to require think tanks to disclose sources of foreign funding when they testify before Congress. It’s a solid proposal. But it does not go far enough. Congress should pass a law making contributions to think tanks by foreign governments and foreign nationals subject to FARA. What else could that money be for, if not to influence policy and public opinion to further foreign interests? Here is one area where transparency is vital. Let the money be disclosed. Or let it dry up.
This is not a trivial matter. The Times investigation raised serious questions regarding national security. Among the nations attempting to influence U.S. politics by funding think tanks is China. No doubt Russia, which has been supporting anti-fracking campaigns in Europe and operates a propaganda outfit in the United States, is also involved. We won’t know for sure until the recipients of money from Beijing and the Kremlin complete their FARA forms.
Whole thing here.
8:34 AM, Sep 8, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The "busiest land port of entry in the Western Hemisphere" is getting an upgrade, and according to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), about a half a million dollars worth of new artwork will be part of the package.
10:43 AM, Aug 26, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The federal government issued sixty contracts from 2009 to 2014 in efforts to build Healthcare.gov, the federal insurance marketplace.
9:34 AM, Aug 18, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The legislative fix has been passed and signed into law, along with a generous appropriation of new money. Also, a new top person has been named and confirmed. So time to move on from the VA and its woes. But before doing so, consider the magnitude of the problems and their duration.
11:20 AM, Aug 13, 2014 • By PETE HEGSETH
With the overwhelmingly bipartisan vote for the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, Congress passed the most significant reforms to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in decades. And, right on cue, here come the grumblings from the second-guessers.
9:12 AM, Aug 6, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Thanks to the marvels of the digital epoch, citizens can now track the government’s spending of public money. On a website, of all things. Of course, while the technology may change and improve, the eternals still apply.
7:59 AM, Jul 22, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
There is a fairly robust debate about inflation going on these days. Is there too much? Not enough? Any at all? And just how much is too much? Can we hit the Goldilocks sweet spot?
7:04 AM, Jul 17, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Vice President Biden and his entourage visited Brazil in mid-June to attend the USA versus Ghana World Cup game, a trip that also included meetings with both the president and vice president of Brazil.
9:01 AM, Jul 11, 2014 • By ELI LEHRER
As anyone who has visited New York City knows, getting a taxicab in the city can prove very, very difficult. And finding a driver that speaks English, has working air conditioning, will let a visitor pay by credit card, and knows directions to major landmarks can be even harder. That’s why it’s utterly bizarre that the city is trying to stop drivers from offering taxi-like rides in the city for free.
Get them where they drive.9:24 AM, Jul 7, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Washington needs more money and if it doesn’t get it, your morning commute will become:
a) more expensive
4:05 PM, Jul 1, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Another day, another national crisis. Yesterday it was immigration and another threat/promise to go it alone.
11:12 AM, Jul 1, 2014 • By MICHAEL ASTRUE
Now that Washington has acknowledged cultural malaise and a broad failure to provide timely access to health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Congress and the executive branch are competing frantically to show the public how hard they are working to fix that failure.
11:01 AM, Jun 18, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The white-hot issue of what to call the professional football team currently playing its home games in the vicinity of the nation’s capital just got hotter. Earlier this week, Senator Harry Reid said he wouldn’t accept comp tickets (truly a first for a sitting senator) to the team’s games so long as it continued to be called the “Redskins.”
1:08 PM, May 29, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
One of the more intriguing aspects of the VA health care scandal is the way the paperwork was creatively done to make it appear that the system was operating as it was meant to.