For Speechwriters, a Cautionary Tale

If you're writing for foreign officials, you need to register as a foreign agent. And if you register as a foreign agent, your client relationship could be revealed.

U.S. speechwriters: If you’re writing for a foreign official, pay heed:

West Wing Writers’ managing partner Vinca LaFleur played by the rules when she went to write speeches and other communications for Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan.

Precisely because she registered as a foreign agent in compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a San Jose Mercury News reporter digging into Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign donors flagged LaFleur’s gift of $2,700.

The discovery prompted the Harris campaign to return LaFleur’s donation, with Harris writing, “From day one, I made a commitment to you: our campaign will reject all contributions from corporate PACs and federal lobbyists—instead, putting our campaign in the hands of the people.”

What this means is that speechwriters who rightly register as foreign agents might have their work portrayed as sinister and their discreet client relationships revealed.

So check out the FARA rules, and tread carefully. —DM

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