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Foreign Influence Explorer

Foreign Influence Explorer documents some of the ways foreign entities influence policy and opinions in the United States. The foreign influence data housed here comes from documents collected by the Department of Justice as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act. View information about Foreign Agent Feed and Proposed Arms Sales below.

Documents in the Foreign Agent Feed come from the Department of Justice's Foreign Agents Registration Act Records.

The DOJ describes FARA as, "a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities."

The data is made up of records that report a variety of activity by individuals or organizations representing foreign interests in the U.S. For example, some of the records report cases of lobbyists advocating for foreign governments. Others might detail public relations campaigns for travel and trade associations or what appears to be more mundane occurrences such as individuals seeking visas.

Clicking on a form in the Foreign Agent Feed takes you to a document profile that lists all the clients represented by a registrant. Registrants are generally the companies or individuals who represent foreign interests and they are responsible for filing the forms with the DOJ. Sometimes registrants represent themselves. As new forms are processed, client lists can change.

If a form has been processed, and the form deals with the information Sunlight tracks, a downloadable file will be created. The zip file will contain spreadsheets with any information dealing with whom the registrant contacts in the United States, the registrant's political contributions, payments made to the registrant and disbursements made on behalf of the client.

Documents in the Proposed Arms Sales Feed are press releases from The Defense Security Cooperation Agency. It's important to note that the sales mentioned in this feed are only proposed sales and may not happen.

This resource is particularly useful to reporters and informed citizens. People can discover issues that are up for negotiation and reference FARA records to see what kind of influence may be a factor in these decisions.

Clicking on a title will take you to a preview of a press release and a link to download the original document from the DSCA.

The Foreign Military Sales program according to the DSCA:

The Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program is a form of security assistance authorized by the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and a fundamental tool of U.S. foreign policy.

Under Section 3, of the AECA, the U.S. may sell defense articles and services to foreign countries and international organizations when the president formally finds that to do so will strengthen the security of the U.S. and promote world peace.

Under the FMS the US Government and a foreign government enter into a government-to-government sales agreement. The international agreement is called a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA).