Following the Department of Justice’s announcement in March 2019 of an initiative to increase enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”), the Department began rolling out a new electronic filing system for FARA registrations in September 2019. At that time, as Covington reported, the new system applied only to new registrants, and the Department indicated that it would transition all filers to the new system over time. It now appears that the Department has begun to move some existing registrants to the new system.

Recently, Covington noticed that some existing registrants are being directed to a new e-file system when logging into the Department’s website. This new system provides online forms for various filings, including supplemental statements, exhibits, amendments, short forms, informational materials, and more. Similar to the manner in which the Department replaced the old PDF form for the initial registration with the online system in September 2019, the Department has now replaced the remaining PDF forms with this new online system for some registrants.

It is not exactly clear which registrants have been moved to the new system. We have found that some existing registrants continue to be directed to the old system. That system, which has been in place for more than a decade, provides a process for uploading PDF forms and attachments created by the registrant. As best we can tell, registrants that completed an initial registration under the new system – i.e., those that registered for the first time after last September – were the first to be moved to this new system for the rest of the FARA forms.

The new system has a few notable additions. As noted in our prior alert, the Department is requiring that filers submit a scan of a “wet” signature on a DOJ template for filings submitted through the new system.  The system also has a new “Review and Validate Incomplete Tasks” function for registrants to review pending tasks regarding amendments or supplemental statements, and a more streamlined process for providing updated information about officers and directors of the registrant. There does not appear to be a method for submitting a cover letter to a filing. The prior system permitted the inclusion of a cover letter, which registrants often used to provide ancillary or explanatory information to the Department.

Covington will continue to monitor developments to the e-file system and post updates regarding this new system as they become available.

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Photo of Robert Kelner Robert Kelner

Robert Kelner is the chair of Covington’s Election and Political Law Practice Group. Mr. Kelner provides political law compliance advice to a wide range of corporate and political clients.  His compliance practice focuses on federal and state campaign finance, lobbying disclosure, pay to…

Robert Kelner is the chair of Covington’s Election and Political Law Practice Group. Mr. Kelner provides political law compliance advice to a wide range of corporate and political clients.  His compliance practice focuses on federal and state campaign finance, lobbying disclosure, pay to play, and government ethics laws, as well as legal ethics rules.  His expertise includes the Federal Election Campaign Act, Lobbying Disclosure Act, Ethics in Government Act, Foreign Agents Registration Act, and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  He is also a leading authority on the arcane rules governing political contributions by municipal securities dealers, investment advisers, hedge funds, and private equity funds.  Mr. Kelner advises Presidential political appointees on the complex process of being vetted and confirmed for such appointments.

In addition, he regularly advises corporations and corporate executives on instituting political law compliance programs.  He conducts compliance training for senior corporate executives and lobbyists.  He has extensive experience conducting corporate internal investigations concerning campaign finance and lobbying law compliance, as well as other corporate compliance matters.  Mr. Kelner regularly defends clients in investigations by the Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. House & Senate Ethics Committees, the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, the House & Senate Judiciary Committees, the House Energy & Commerce Committee and its Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations, the Senate Finance Committee, the Senate Special Committee on Aging, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and other congressional committees.  He has prepared numerous CEOs and corporate executives for testimony before congressional investigation panels, and he regularly leads the Practicing Law Institute’s training program on congressional investigations for in-house lawyers.  He also defends clients in Lobbying Disclosure Act audits by the GAO and enforcement actions and audits by state election and lobbying enforcement agencies.

Mr. Kelner has appeared as a commentator on political law matters on The PBS News Hour, CNBC, Fox News, and NPR, and he has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Legal Times, Washington Times, Roll Call, The Hill, Politico, USA Today, Financial Times, and other publications.

Photo of Brian D. Smith Brian D. Smith

Brian Smith provides strategic and legal advice on matters that require substantial political, reputational, or government relations considerations.  He represents companies and individuals in high-profile or high-risk investigations, particularly congressional investigations, criminal investigations with political implications, and investigations related to political law compliance. …

Brian Smith provides strategic and legal advice on matters that require substantial political, reputational, or government relations considerations.  He represents companies and individuals in high-profile or high-risk investigations, particularly congressional investigations, criminal investigations with political implications, and investigations related to political law compliance.  He has significant experience in crisis management, where he advises clients facing combined legal, political, and media relations risks.  His practice also includes the development and execution of government relations initiatives, including securing the U.S. government’s political support on behalf of U.S. companies facing international legal issues.

Photo of Alex Langton Alex Langton

Alexandra Langton represents and counsels corporate, political, and individual clients in matters before government agencies and Congress. She also advises companies, PACs, nonprofits, and individuals on compliance with federal and state campaign finance, election, and lobbying laws.