Despite calls for a ban on foreign lobbying, which sees Americans lobbying legislators and the public for foreign interests, Republican presidential nominee Nikki Haley has raised tens of thousands of dollars in political donations from foreign lobbyists by 2024, public disclosure reports show.
Haley, the US ambassador to the UN under the Trump administration, recently campaigned on her opposition to foreign lobbying, saying that embassies — not private advisers or lobbyists — should represent foreign interests in the US.
Banning foreign lobbying has been part of her stupid speech against foreign aid, especially money that she says goes to countries whose interests appear to be at odds with those of the United States.
“The first thing we need to do is stop giving money to countries that hate America,” Haley said at an Iowa town hall in April.
“All these lobbyists who are paid by foreign entities to lobby Congress make any form of foreign lobbying illegal,” Haley said. “That’s what embassies are for.”
She then took it to Twitter the next day, to write“Ban all foreign lobbying.”
Later that month, she told a New Hampshire town hall: “We’re going to stop lobbyists, foreign lobbyists, in our country. That’s what embassies are for. We’re not going to allow Americans to lobby for foreign countries. If an ambassador wants something, a Ambassador can ask for it, but no more lobbying Congress for foreign entities.”
But Haley’s rhetoric hasn’t stopped her from raising money from supporters who are currently or formerly registered agents working for foreign entities. Under United States FARA laws, as part of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, individuals and entities acting as agents of a foreign client are required to register with the Department of Justice.
One of Haley’s top fundraisers, Oswaldo Palomo, the general manager of DC-based consulting firm Chartwell Strategy Group, is himself a registered foreign agent.
Palomo has contributed a total of $6,600 so far this year to Haley’s Joint Fundraising Committee, which raises money for her presidential campaign and her leadership PAC, Stand for America, according to campaign disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission.
According to FARA records, Palomo represents a number of foreign entities, including the government of Georgia in Eastern Europe, for which he worked since at least 2018, and the Social Democratic Party of Romania, one of his more recent clients. Each of those clients pays him between $35,000 and $40,000 a month, and he has reported making contacts with hundreds of U.S. lawmakers in the course of his lobbying efforts, FARA documents show.
Palomo also represents Israel’s cyber-intelligence firm NSO Group and partially state-owned Chinese information technology company iFLYTEK, and has also previously worked for the government of Kosovo.
Palomo’s work has earned him hundreds of thousands of dollars from each of his overseas clients over the past six months, according to documents.
Despite Haley’s calls for a ban on foreign lobbying, Palomo has been an outspoken supporter of the presidential hopeful, often praising her fundraising success.
Like Palomo, David Horton Wilkins, who served as U.S. ambassador to Canada under President George W. Bush and is now a registered foreign agent, donated $6,600 to Haley’s joint fundraising committee, according to disclosure documents. Haley’s longtime ally, formerly a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, led her transition team when she was first elected governor of South Carolina in 2010.
Now a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, Wilkins has been a registered agent for the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia for over a decade. .
Another Haley donor, Alexandra Scott Amorosi, whose LinkedIn profile says she worked at the public relations firm Ketchum, is a former registered foreign agent who represented the Russian Federation between 2011 and 2014, as well as a majority-owned Russian energy company called Gazprom. and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, which provides media relations and communications services, according to foreign lobbying data. She has not renewed her registration as a foreign agent since 2014.
Haley’s campaign did not respond to an ABC News request for comment.
Palomo declined to comment when ABC News contacted them, while Wilkins and Amorosi could not be reached for comment.
While federal election laws prohibit foreign citizens from making donations to U.S. political campaigns, lobbyists who are U.S. citizens and repr
esent foreign interests are allowed to do so, and it is a common practice, especially at the federal level.
During the 2020 presidential election, more than $33.5 million in federal political contributions came from foreign lobbyists, including at least $8.5 million from FARA-registered agents, and $25 million from lobbyists registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act while they represented foreign clients at U.S. subsidiaries, according to FEC disclosure reports.
“It is not uncommon for presidential candidates to make promises to reject campaign contributions from foreign lobbyists before finally accepting them — although some politicians have refunded money from foreign lobbyists after media backlash,” said Anna Massoglia, editorial and research manager at the impartial research group OpenSecrets. .org, told ABC News.
Even if a candidate swears off campaign contributions directly from foreign lobbyists, those lobbyists can redirect money to outside groups such as nonprofits or super-PACs that support the candidates, Massoglia said.