US lawmakers are pushing legislation that would force foreign business leaders to divulge sensitive information about their contacts with US government officials in a crackdown on lobbying spurred by concern about Russian political meddling.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference has injected new life into a bill causing concern among non-US multinationals because it could class their employees as “foreign agents” subject to stringent American disclosure requirements that could put them at a disadvantage to US rivals..
The bill would strengthen an obscure 1930s law aimed at Nazi propagandists that was thrust into the spotlight by Mr Mueller’s October indictment of Paul Manafort, US President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager accused of failing to register as a foreign agent lobbying for a Ukrainian political party.
该法案将加强一部20世纪30年代一部针对纳粹宣传人员的鲜为人知的法律。去年10月，穆勒对美国总统唐纳德.特朗普(Donald Trump)的前竞选经理保罗.马纳福特(Paul Manafort)提出刑事控罪，后者被控在为乌克兰某政党游说期间，未能登记为一名外国代理人。此举把该法推到聚光灯下。
Lawyers say the legislation, which would modify the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act, would heap new disclosure requirements on the staff of any non-US company meeting federal officials; on American lobbyists providing services to foreign companies; and on US businesses lobbying for their own foreign affiliates.
律师们表示，对1938年《外国代理人登记法》(Foreign Agents Registration Act)作出修改的新法案，将对以下几类对象提出大量新的披露要求：会晤联邦官员的任何非美国企业员工；为境外企业提供服务的美国游说者；以及为自己的境外附属企业游说的美国企业。
Its effect would be “chilling”, according to a Washington-based executive at one European company. “Your competitors would have extraordinary transparency into what you are doing in the US.”
Multinationals with big US operations — including the likes of engine maker Rolls-Royce and German manufacturers Bayer and Siemens — have sent staff to Capitol Hill to express their concerns about the legislation in its current form, according to people familiar with the bill.
Nancy McLernon, president of OFII (the Organisation for International Investment), a trade group for non-US companies lobbying for changes to the bill, said it would “lump US employees of a Canadian auto-parts company or Germany-based grocery chain in with agents of foreign governments”.
The Republican-backed bill, which passed a hurried committee vote in the House of Representatives in January, is sponsored by congressman Mike Johnson and the senator Chuck Grassley, who have said it would close “loopholes exploited by lobbyists of foreign entities to conceal their work”.
共和党支持的该法案，1月在众议院通过一次匆匆安排的委员会投票。该法案获得众议员迈克.约翰逊(Mike Johnson)和参议员查克.格拉斯利(Chuck Grassley)支持，他们称，它将堵上“境外实体的游说者为掩盖其工作而利用的漏洞”。
While the bill’s progress is making business nervous, its chances of being put to a full vote are uncertain. One person close to House Republican leaders said it would not be brought up in the near future, while Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has not taken a position on the bill.