Campaign Finance and Political Activities

(804 Ratings)

Produced on: July 15, 2014

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 63 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Supporting candidates is often a necessary component to a government affairs program, or just to ensure a more favorable regulatory climate for a business or association. Supporting candidates, however, is a highly regulated area, requiring a clear understanding of the laws governing political activity. What is legal in one state may not be legal in the neighboring state, and campaign finance violations can lead to expensive investigations, high fines, and negative publicity that can destroy an organization’s reputation. 


This program, presented by Ronald Jacobs, co-chair of Venable’s Political Law Group, discusses the federal rules that apply to making campaign contributions. It explores simple solutions for an organization, such as creating a federal political action committee (PAC), as well as more complicated options like hosting fundraisers, conducting get-out-the vote activities, and communicating with employees. It also examines how company executives can engage in fundraising activities as volunteers without causing the company to make an impermissible in-kind contribution. 


In addition, the program explores the state laws and how they differ from the federal model. Many states do allow corporate contributions. Other states allow federal PACs to contribute to state candidates with minimal extra filing. Unfortunately, a handful of states have very restrictive rules that effectively require a company to create a state-specific PAC. Moreover, a number of states have “pay-to-play” laws that restrict company and executive giving if the organization has state or local contracts. Although there is a separate program on state sales activities that includes a full discussion of pay-to-play, this session provides an overview so that counsel can learn about the need for a compliance program.


Learning Objectives:

I.     Understand the federal restrictions on corporate political activity

II.    Learn how to create a federal PAC and understand the compliance obligations that go along with it

III.   Differentiate the state laws that restrict or permit corporate support of state and local candidates

IV.   Summarize how to use a federal PAC in state elections or how to create a state-specific PAC

V.    Identify what pay-to-play laws are and how they apply to state and local government contractors





Ronald Jacobs

Venable LLP

Ronald Jacobs, a partner in Venable’s Washington D.C. office serves as chair of Venable’s Political Law Group. He advises clients on all aspects of state and federal political law, including campaign finance, lobbying disclosure, gift and ethics rules, pay-to-play laws, and tax implications of political activities. Mr. Jacobs assists clients with crises response to government investigations and enforcement actions, Congressional investigations, class-action law suits, and other high-profile problems that involve potentially damaging legal and public-relations matters. Along with Lawrence Norton, he co-edits the firm’s Political Law Briefing blog.

Mr. Jacobs understands the often-contradictory rules imposed by the different laws that apply to political activities. He offers practical advice that considers not only the legal requirements, but also the reputational risk, of political activity to a broad range of clients, including large and small companies, trade associations, charities, campaigns, Super PACs, ideological groups, individuals, and political vendors. He has developed political compliance programs for Fortune 500 companies and other clients that lobby and make political contributions nationwide.

In addition to counseling clients on political law matters, Mr. Jacobs has extensive experience in the administrative rulemaking process and in litigating challenges to agency decisions in federal court. He has represented clients in administrative matters before the Federal Election Commission, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Federal Trade Commission, the United States Congress, and in federal court.



Some of Mr. Jacobs’s significant matters have included:

  • Obtaining an advisory opinion from the Federal Election Commission to allow an association to launch a novel new online fundraising platform to support candidates.
  • Serving as general counsel to a successful 2014 candidate for the United States Senate.
  • Representing a Super PAC that supported a candidate in the 2012 presidential primary, creating one of the first Super PACs active in a Los Angeles mayor's race and one of the first Super PACs active in a local Maryland election, as well as representing Super PACs active in Congressional elections.
  • Creating a 501(c)(4) that engaged in issue advocacy and candidate activities connection with the 2012 presidential general election.
  • Obtaining approval from Senate Ethics Committee for major nationally-televised charitable event held during the Holiday Season in Washington.
  • Developing pay-to-play compliance policy and procedures for a large hedge fund that actively solicits state contributions and for a hospitality company that serves state and local governments.
  • Successfully defending a large, nationally-known trade association during a Congressional investigation into allegations of fraudulent grassroots lobbying activity.
  • Assisting a large social welfare organization with multiple Congressional investigations and several class action lawsuits.
  • Serving as outside pro bono counsel to Warrior Canine Connection, a charity that assists soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder to train service dogs for physically wounded soldiers.


Ralph W. C.

Very enlightening.

Henry G.

Excellent informative course and speaker.

Charles S.

Political campaign laws are complex. This course is a great introduction to major issues advisers to campaigns should be aware of.

Daniel C. M.

Good pace throughout presentation - covered a myriad of pitfalls and suggestions for avoidance.

Julie A. B.

Grateful for the supplemental materials.

William C.

good presenter

Tracey R.

Very concise and understandable course.

Sheila M.

jam-packed with valuable information--time well spent

Mara M.

Very good, professional presentation on a complicated subject.

Jordan F.

Very interesting. Learned much I did not know.

Jonathan H.

Excellent and informative.

Ronald J.

4 point presentation in all aspects

Michael B.

This presentation inspires me to want to practice in this field of law.

Henry E.

this instructor is very good.

Kiva W.

This was a great course to take considering that we are near the presidential election.

William H.

Good review of topic.

Clarence S.

excellent presentation of complex area of law

Louis D.

Excellent seminar on campaign finance and PAC. Presented clearly and succinctly.

Gary F.

Good speaker

Charles D.

Excellent overview

Kathryn A.

very interesting and well structured

Sean D.

Very informative seminar concerning how campaign-financing really works.

Kristina U.

Very informative. Pace was excellent. Ilearned a lot.

Armistead G.

good program

Nichon S.

It provided me with some detail about PAC contributions that I did not know. Great CLE for general knowledge

Martha G.

Very interesting! Lots of good information

Robert N.

That was actually a really good class. Great speaker!

Dana G.

Fascinating to me as someone focused on institutional corruption. I am more knowledgable now but also more depressed at the state of our monied electoral system.

Jason N.

Enjoyable speaker.

irina a.

good primer in this field.

Daniel N.

Important knowledge for any attorney wishing to be active in the political process.


Great overview - very comprehensive for a beginner or any voting citizen.

Frank K.


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$ 59 Election, Campaign, & Political Law In Stock


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