Kemp vetoes bill adding state-level requirements for foreign agents

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(The Center Square) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp vetoed a measure that would bar foreign nationals from making political contributions.

While such contributions are already prohibited by federal law, Senate Bill 368 would have mandated that agents of “foreign principals” register with the Georgia State Ethics Commission.

In a veto statement, the Republican governor said some of the measure’s provisions “were unintended by the bill’s sponsor,” prompting him to veto it at the sponsor’s request. One Foreign Agent Registration Act expert tells The Center Square that was the right move.

“Gov. Kemp’s decision to veto SB368 was the right call for those trying to do business in Georgia’s burgeoning economy,” Steve Roberts, a DC-based partner for Holtzman Vogel, told The Center Square via email. “The bill would have added a redundant – though not entirely overlapping – reporting scheme to what the Department of Justice already requires.

“The key difference is that the DOJ has nearly 90 years of history enforcing and clarifying FARA; SB368 had some real structural differences that would have caused massive day one confusion for members of the public trying to understand what’s happening,” Roberts added. “Is it really true that Samsung is working to nefariously influence Georgia state policy? Or are they just running an ad campaign in Atlanta for new television sets?

“SB368 would have made it very difficult to distinguish between those, but in either instance those activities would probably have been reported under SB368.”

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was among the Georgia leaders who backed the bill as it progressed through the Legislature. However, on Wednesday, his office declined to comment on the veto.