While investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 election regularly garner front-page headlines, there is a half-billion-dollar foreign influence industry working to shape U.S. foreign policy every single day that remains largely unknown to the public. The Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative is working to change that anonymity through transparency promotion, investigative research, and public education.

Recent Publications

Report: The Emirati Lobby: How the UAE Wins in Washington

How has the UAE maintained its privileged status? In short, the UAE has a vast and immensely influential lobbying and public relations campaign in America that has allowed the monarchy to exert considerable sway over U.S. policy, while keeping the UAE’s indiscretions largely hidden. In this report we attempt to tell the story of that influence operation.

by Ben Freeman


Report: Sustainable Defense: More Security, Less Spending

An alternative defense strategy that avoids unnecessary and counterproductive wars, reduces the U.S. global military footprint, takes a more realistic view of the major security challenges facing the United States, and reduces waste and inefficiency could save at least $1.2 trillion in projected spending over the next decade while providing a greater measure of security...

Sustainable Defense Task Force, co-directed by William Hartung and Ben Freeman


Latest News

Why Is a Washington State Senator Lobbying for Cambodia?


But Ben Freeman, director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy, argues that just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s ethical. “Even if Senator Ericksen isn’t directly cashing in on his office, he’s making money as a foreign agent while serving as an elected official,” Freeman said. “At the very least this poses a lot of questions about potential conflicts of interest,” Freeman added. “It’s fair to say his constituents would prefer he fight for their interests, not a dictator’s. Do we really want our representatives to be on the payroll of foreign powers?”

Ben Freeman quoted

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

REVEALED: UAE-linked donors gave $3m to Democrats and Republicans after Trump won


Ben Freeman, the director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Washington, DC-based Center for International Policy, told MEE expanding giving to the Republican party made sense after 2016. "If you are looking to rub elbows with high-ranking party offices - the Mitch McConnells and Devin Nuneses - your best bet is to hit up the party. You are in the loop with everybody," he said. "This actually fits the mold of what we typically see in the foreign influence space. Foreign lobbyists aren't picking sides, they're doing whatever they can to influence both sides and that often means giving substantial sums of money to both parties."

Ben Freeman quoted

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

Investigation: Buttigieg Took Thousands of Dollars From Active Foreign Agents


Mayor Pete swore off 2020 campaign money from lobbyists—but there are still questions around his foreign-linked money.

Ben Freeman mentioned

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

Meet The Experts


Ben Freeman



Center for International Policy

2000 M Street NW, Suite 720, Washington, DC 20036

(202) 232-3317

Privacy Policy