Despite calls for a ban on foreign lobbying, in which Americans lobby lawmakers and the public for foreign interests, 2024 Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley has raised tens of thousands of dollars in political donations from from foreign lobbyists, according to disclosure reports.
US Ambassador to the UN under the Trump administration, Haley recently campaigned on her opposition to foreign lobbying, saying embassies – not private consultants or lobbyists – should represent foreign interests in the USA.
The ban on foreign lobbying is part of her stub rhetoric against aid to foreign countries, particularly the money she suggests 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 a town hall in Iowa in April.
“All of these lobbyists who are paid by foreign entities to lobby Congress — prohibit any foreign lobbying whatsoever,” Haley said. “That’s what embassies are for.”
She then took it to Twitter the next day, in writing“Prohibit all foreign lobbying.”
Later that month, she told a New Hampshire town hall, “We will arrest lobbyists, foreign lobbyists, in our country. That is what embassies are for. We are not going to allow Americans to lobby for foreign countries. If an ambassador wants something, an ambassador can ask for it, but no more lobbying Congress for foreign entities.”
But Haley’s rhetoric hasn’t stopped her from raising funds from supporters who are currently or formerly registered agents working for foreign entities. Under United States FARA laws, under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, individuals and corporations acting as an agent of a foreign customer are required to register with the Department of Justice.
One of Haley’s top fundraisers, Oswaldo Palomo, chief executive of Connecticut-based consulting firm Chartwell Strategy Group, is himself a registered foreign agent.
So far this year, Palomo has donated a total of $6,600 to Haley’s Joint Fundraising Committee, which raises money for her presidential campaign and leadership PAC, Stand for America, according to campaign disclosures filed with of the Federal Election Commission.
According to FARA registration records, Palomo represents a number of foreign entities, including the government of Georgia in Eastern Europe, for which he had worked for at least since 2018, and the Social Democratic Party of Romania, l one of his most recent clients. Each of those clients pays him between $35,000 and $40,000 a month, and he said he made contact with hundreds of U.S. lawmakers during his lobbying, according to FARA documents.
Palomo also represents Israeli cyberintelligence firm NSO Group and partially state-owned Chinese information technology company iFLYTEK, and also previously worked for the Kosovo government.
Palomo’s work has earned him hundreds of thousands of dollars from each of his overseas clients over the past six months, according to filings.
Despite Haley’s calls for a ban on foreign lobbying, Palomo has been a strong supporter of the presidential hopeful, often touting his 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 the disclosure documents. A former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Haley’s longtime ally 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, meeting with many members of Congress and representing provincial interests over the years. , according to FARA records. .
Another Haley donor, Alexandra Scott Amorosi, whose LinkedIn profile says she worked for public relations firm Ketchum, is a former registered foreign agent who, between 2011 and 2014, represented the Russian Federation, as well as a majority Russian energy company called Gazprom. and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, which provides media relations and communications services, according to foreign lobbying records. She has not renewed her foreign agent registration since 2014.
Haley’s campaign did not respond to an ABC News request for comment.
Palomo declined to comment when contacted by ABC News, while Wilkins and Amorosi could not be reached for comment.
Although federal election laws prohibit foreign nationals from donating to US political campaigns, US citizen lobbyists representing foreign interests are permitted to do so, and it is common practice, particularly at the federal level.
During the 2020 presidential election cycle, 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 representing foreign clients in the United States. subsidiaries, according to FEC disclosure reports.
“It’s not uncommon for presidential candidates to make promises by rejecting campaign contributions from foreign lobbyists before finally accepting them – although some politicians have refunded foreign lobbyists’ money after media backlash said Anna Massoglia, head of editorial and investigative work at the nonpartisan research group OpenSecrets. .org, told ABC News.
Even if a candidate swears campaign contributions directly from foreign lobbyists, those lobbyists can funnel funds to outside groups like nonprofits or super PACs supporting the candidates, Massoglia said.