CLC Files Complaint Against Former Rep. David Rivera for Undisclosed Foreign Influence Efforts

Issues
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a close shot of David Rivera leaning forward to speak
Rep. David Rivera, R- Miami, during budget negotiations in Tallahassee on 26 April 2010. Photo by Scott Keeler/ZUMA Press Inc.

The public has a right to know how foreign governments and their agents are attempting to influence our country’s public opinion, policies, and laws.

CLC filed a complaint with the Department of Justice’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Unit asking for an investigation into former United States Representative David Rivera. Rep. Rivera appears to have agreed to act as a foreign agent of Venezuela’s state-owned oil and natural gas company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) without registering with the Department of Justice as required by law.

Rep. Rivera’s failure to register undermines one of DOJ’s stated purposes of FARA: to protect American democracy from covert foreign government influence.

FARA is designed to provide essential transparency: if foreign agents register with DOJ, and their activities are made public, the public is more informed about the sources of influence in our democratic processes. Real transparency about who is potentially influencing American public policy will mean more government accountability, less influence for wealthy special interests and less political corruption.

If, however, former U.S. officials like Rep. Rivera are permitted to lobby for foreign government entities in secret, our democracy becomes more vulnerable to improper foreign interference.

The evasion of FARA registration requirements allows foreign influence in our democracy to go undetected. That is why strong enforcement of failure to file violations is so crucial. If DOJ holds unregistered foreign agents accountable, the American public can rest easier knowing foreign influence efforts are not taking place in secret.

Read the full complaint.

Kedric is CLC's General Counsel and Senior Director of Ethics.
Delaney's work focuses on government ethics, accountability, and transparency.