The McKenna Long & Aldridge (MLA) Political Law team is a Chambers USA nationally recognized practice that helps clients legally and ethically interact with government at the highest federal and state levels on a range of political, election law, and ethics issues, including campaign finance, issue advocacy, lobby disclosure, and pay-to-play. The practice offers a seasoned team of attorneys and public policy advisors, many of whom have served at the highest levels of government and in numerous Presidential and statewide campaigns. Our bipartisan team regularly serves as a resource on the critical political issues of the day, and is comprised of former public officials from a number of government agencies, including Congress, Department of Justice, state legislatures, and governorships.
The political law team maintains a blog (www.paytoplaylawblog.com), which is dedicated to helping readers monitor the status of proposed pay to play legislation and is a leading online community for analyses on the impacts of pay to play regulations on the state level in reference to lobbying, transparency, contributions, and gifts.
Few law firms have a foundation in state and federal lobbying and procurement compliance, corporate political activities, campaign finance, election law, and government ethics. To answer our clients’ needs, the practice is comprised of attorneys and professionals from our Government Affairs, Corporate, Tax, and Litigation sections, many of whom have played significant roles in national political campaigns. MLA’s clients include large corporations; political action committees (PACs); independent committees; trade associations; non-profit organizations; elected officials and public officers; and political candidates, committees, and parties.
Recent amendments to the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, and Foreign Agent Registration Act require a heightened need for disclosure, ethics training, and press scrutiny, which has come with increased public awareness. MLA’s team supports clients with their registration, compliance, and reporting requirements, as well as helping to establish internal compliance and training programs for campaign activities, ethics compliance, and disclosure obligations.
Additionally, recent developments in Washington, DC have spurred numerous state legislatures and general assemblies to revise their compliance and disclosure requirements concerning lobbying activities, vendor procurement, pay-to-play regulation, campaign finance, and gift rules. Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations can be daunting. Our team helps to establish and maintain state and federal PACs, "SuperPACs," advocacy groups, and independent committees for our clients. Once formed, these committees rely on our attorneys and professionals to facilitate PAC registration, administration, solicitation, and contribution issues.
MLA counsels PACs and other political entities with "turnkey" registration and compliance filings as required by the FEC, the Internal Revenue Service, and other appropriate state agencies. The group also represents individuals, corporations, and political committees to resolve FEC and other state and federal regulatory agencies’ complaints, as well as clients faced with enforcement actions. For some PACs, the team provides day-to-day management with database administration, records retention, reports production, and membership activities.
Corporations, trade associations, political and advocacy groups, and individuals regularly seek out MLA to determine whether a political activity — such as sponsoring a fundraiser, hosting a candidate, engaging in issue advocacy, or financing "independent expenditures" — is permissible under the circumstances.
Guidance is also given on tax consequences of various lobbying programs. Additionally, team members are hired to counsel business clients who want to increase their visibility in the federal, state, or local governmental and political communities.
Election related issues are a team priority. Federal and state candidates have come to MLA for advice on compliance issues, and the preparation of contribution and expenditure reports. The team regularly reviews clients' disclosure reports prior to filing. In the event a campaign's report is challenged, either by regulatory agencies such as the FEC or by a political opponent, the team provides legal representation and advice on political ramifications.
Campaigns and political parties turn to MLA for guidance for election-related disputes, and on ballot access and candidate eligibility matters. Our team provides advice on monitoring the election process. We provide candidates with legal counsel throughout their campaigns, including setting up campaign organizations, reviewing contracts, and avoiding and negotiating employment disputes. MLA has also hosted events at the Democratic and Republican national conventions, and negotiated convention-related contracts.
Among our other areas of practice:
- Tax exempt guidance
- Government ethics advocacy before Senate and House committees
- Litigation with regard to violation of campaign and finance laws
- First Amendment issues
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