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 28Pages.org 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 28Pages.org
28Pages.org provided the most comprehensive reporting on the Saudi Arabia’s anti-JASTA lobbying campaign, breaking several important stories along the way.
- Veterans Being Misled on JASTA, Says International Law Expert
- Veterans Say Organizers Concealed Saudi Sponsorship of Their Trip to DC to Lobby for Changes to 9/11 Lawsuit Legislation
- DOJ Fails to Pursue Allegations of Saudi Lobbying Misconduct
- Vet Says Iowa Official Used Deceit to Recruit Him to Lobby in Saudi Drive Against 9/11 Law
- Four More Vets Say They Were Tricked into Lobbying for Saudis
- Capitol Media Group Didn’t Tell Vets They Were Lobbying for Saudi Arabia
- The Saudi Agents Next Door: Americans Who Cashed in on Campaign to Stop 9/11 Trial
- Document Exposes Inconsistent Disclosure of Saudi Hand in Campaign Against JASTA
- DOJ Complaint Filed Over Saudi Lobbying Campaign That Exploited Veterans
- Saudi Arabia Paid Conservative PR Firm $90,000 to Bring Vets to DC to Lobby Against JASTA
- Kim and Connie Schmett’s Saudi Scandal Prompts New Iowa Laws
- Iowa Governor Seeks Review of Officials Who Worked for Saudis
- Consultant Used Facebook to Recruit Others to Saudi Cause, But Didn’t Disclose Kingdom’s Role
- Meet 70 Americans Who Are Working for Saudi Arabia Against 9/11 Justice
- NY Tea Party Leader Aided Saudi Drive to Change 9/11 Justice Law
- Cornyn Condemns Tactics Saudis Used Against 9/11 Justice Law
- Senate Campaign Faces Scrutiny of Strategist’s Work for Saudis
Reporting by Other Outlets
- Full Measure syndicated Sunday news program: Saudi Lobbying
- Associated Press: Saudis Paid for U.S. Veteran Trips Against 9/11 Lawsuit Law
- American Conservative: How Saudi Arabia Tricked American Veterans
- Augusta Chronicle: Augusta Vets Lobby Congress, Discover Funding Came from Saudi Government
- Yahoo News: 9/11 Families Seek Justice Department Probe of Saudi Lobbying That Enlisted U.S. Veterans
- Daily Caller: Saudi Cash is Sending Veterans on Luxury Trips to Washington to Oppose 9/11 Law
- Harper’s: Crime and Punishment: Will the 9/11 Case Finally Go to Trial?
- Washington Post: Saudi Lobbyists Bought 500 Nights at Trump’s Hotel After 2016 Election
- Veterans who have been involved in anti-JASTA lobbying: email@example.com
- Journalists seeking assistance or a comment: firstname.lastname@example.org
Foreign Agents Registration Act