Saudi Lobbying Scandal

Lobbyists for Saudi Arabia, hired to weaken the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), carried out a deceptive campaign that exploited U.S. military veterans and seemingly violated many provisions of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

JASTA, which was enacted in September 2016 over President Obama’s veto, cleared the way for 9/11 survivors, families and insurers to sue the government of Saudi Arabia for its alleged support of the 9/11 hijackers.

Saudi Arabia lobbied intensely against JASTA in the run-up to its passage. After it became law, the kingdom redoubled its efforts, seeking to amend the law and prevent 9/11 victims from presenting their case.

The Saudi government has engaged many lobbying firms to fight JASTA, but one stands at the epicenter of the veterans lobbying scandal: Qorvis MSLGROUP. According to witness accounts and investigations by and others, Qorvis and associated individuals have:

  • Misled veterans, convincing them that, if other countries pass their own versions of JASTA, individual U.S. service members would face lawsuits in foreign courts.
  • Provided veterans with all-expenses-paid trips to Washington to lobby against JASTA, without disclosing that Saudi Arabia was behind the effort.
  • Concealed Saudi sponsorship of the lobbying effort from members of Congress and their staffs.
  • Failed to add required disclosures of Saudi sponsorship to informational and recruiting communications used in the campaign.
  • Engaged many individuals in the anti-JASTA effort who failed to register with the Department of Justice (DOJ) as agents of the Saudi government.
  • Failed to submit reports to the DOJ outlining specific lobbying activities performed for and disbursements made on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

In March 2017, 9/11 Victims’ Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism submitted a formal complaint to Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging an investigation into the alleged FARA violations. To date, there is no indication of any action by Sessions or the DOJ.

Reporting by provided the most comprehensive reporting on the Saudi Arabia’s anti-JASTA lobbying campaign, breaking several important stories along the way.

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Reporting by Other Outlets


  • Veterans who have been involved in anti-JASTA lobbying:
  • Journalists seeking assistance or a comment:

Foreign Agents Registration Act

Brian McGlinchey’s journalism has moved to a Substack newsletter—Stark Realities with Brian McGlinchey