Disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn just registered with the Department of Justice as a “foreign agent” over lobbying work that might have helped the Turkish government, according to a US News report.
The voluntary registration paperwork said that work completed by Flynn’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group Inc., may have helped the Republic of Turkey between August and November of 2016. The company, Inovo BV is based in the Netherlands, but was founded by Kamil Ekim Alptekin, who also serves as the chair of the Turkish-American Business Council that operates under the Turkish Foreign Economic Relations board. Flynn’s consulting work centered on a Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gülen, who was living in the US and sought by Turkey for extradition. Flynn met with Turkish officials less than two months after the election.
Flynn’s company had disclosed to Congress that they were paid over $500,000 to lobby for Inovo BV, but failed to register with the Department of Justice. Registering with the DOJ would have opened the lobbying work up to much more government scrutiny.
By law, lobbying efforts on behalf of foreign governments must be disclosed to the Department of Justice. Failing to do so is a felony. However, charges are rare, as the DOJ first tries to bring the lobbyists back into compliance. One such measure is to retroactively register for work that occurred in the past, which is what Flynn is doing.
The timing of his filing is suspicious. With his ally Donald Trump in the White House, the DOJ is likely to be more friendly to Flynn’s overseas efforts if they were not on the up-and-up. Flynn could not be reached for comment by reporters, but a spokesman said that registering was done “out of an abundance of caution.”
Flynn resigned as Trump’s national security advisor in February when it was discovered that he lied to Congress about his ties to Russia.