The increasing regulation of US politics and government transactions poses new challenges. Candidates and political committees must grapple with evolving campaign finance laws and disclosure requirements. Government contractors and regulated businesses confront new rules intended to curtail pay-to-play influence in government and increase transparency. Lawyers in Mayer Brown’s Political Law practice help clients navigate the changing political environment and stay in compliance with government ethics, lobbying, transparency, campaign finance and election laws. We use our decades of experience in private practice and government service to help clients achieve their business and political objectives.
Campaign finance laws have changed significantly over the past decade. While many jurisdictions have sought to further limit contribution amounts and purported influence, the US Supreme Court has opened new avenues to finance campaigns. Candidates, political committees and donors must understand and navigate an increasingly complex landscape, noting the new roles of independent expenditure committees (“Super PACs”) and Section 501(c)(4) and other tax-exempt entities. Participants must also confront the impact of new pay-to-play rules intended to curtail influence in government.
Lawyers in our Political Law practice routinely represent political committees, candidates and donors. We help our clients understand the law and develop and implement plans that achieve their political objectives. We have experience with election issues at all levels of government—federal, state and local throughout the United States. Our capabilities include:
- Generally Applicable and Donor-Specific Contribution Limits: We advise clients on generally applicable contribution limits under federal, state, and local laws. We also advise on limits that are specific to an industry or donor, such as government contractors, regulated industries, investment advisers and municipal advisors.
- Independent Expenditures, SuperPACs and 501(c)(4)-Exempt Entities: We counsel clients on the formation, qualification and use of non-traditional political committees, such as independent expenditure committees ("SuperPACs") and civic organizations exempt pursuant to IRC Section 501(c)(4). We advise clients on the risks and benefits of undertaking political activity through those structures, the registration and disclosure requirements applicable to each, and the applicability of fundraising and expenditure limits.
- Formation, Registration and Reporting of Political Committees: We help clients form and register political committees and file periodic activity reports with election authorities. We represent clients before the Federal Election Commission and state and local election authorities throughout the United States. We have represented candidate committees, political action committees, political parties, independent expenditure committees, ballot initiatives, civic organizations (Section 501(c)(4)) and other tax-exempt entities, and trade associations.
In response to public corruption scandals during the past decade, governments at the federal, state and local level have markedly increased the regulation of political activity by government contractors and regulated industries. All three levels of government have imposed regulations to curtail pay-to-play influence in government. Many of these rules apply not just to the company, but also its executives, key personnel and affiliates. These rules pose new challenges for legal counsel and compliance professionals.
Lawyers in our Political Law practice have helped dozens of companies, as well as political committees, understand and navigate pay-to-play rules. We counsel clients on the limits and other requirements of these rules, help them prepare compliance policies and advise on the potential impact of campaign contributions.
Our experience includes advising the following types of clients on pay-to-play rules:
- Government contractors and bidders
- Licensed and regulated companies
- Investment advisers (SEC Investment Advisers Act Rule 206(4)-5)
- Municipal securities dealers and municipal advisors (MSRB Rule G-37)
- Broker-dealers engaged in solicitation (FINRA Rules 2030 and 4580)
- Municipal swap dealers (CFTC Rule 23.451)
- Placement agents, third-party solicitors, and lobbyists
Many of these rules focus on investment funds that seek or obtain investments by public pension systems and other government funds and on other parts of the financial services industry. We work closely with our colleagues advising on private investment fund and financial services matters to draw on their industry-specific experience.
Lawyers in our Political Law practice have decades of experience representing candidates for public office and proponents of ballot initiatives. Our lawyers have represented clients in connection with significant national and local elections, including US presidential, Senate and House elections, as well as gubernatorial and mayoral elections. We have also represented proponents of statewide and local ballot initiatives throughout the nation.
We help candidates and ballot initiatives to qualify for the ballot, defending petitions against objections. We develop election day plans to ensure the integrity of voting and prepare for possible recounts or election-related litigation. Our lawyers have obtained court orders to keep polls open when circumstances warrant and ensure that ballots are preserved for post-election review.
We have also counseled clients on redistricting. We represented members of the US House of Representatives in litigation against a state over its 2011 redistricting plan and in similar litigation against the state during each of the preceding two decades. We have also represented proponents of ballot initiatives to reform the state’s redistricting process, including in litigation before the state supreme court. In 2017, we represented plaintiffs in a partisan gerrymander challenge to another state’s electoral district plan.