Being involved in government affairs can be very helpful for a company or association – a favorable legislative climate, a regulation that provides a competitive advantage, or a beneficial tax treatment are all common government affairs objectives that can directly increase the bottom line. But, there are risks that come from the regulations governing the interaction with government officials. In addition, a number of activist shareholders and so-called “good government” groups have pressed companies to adopt robust policies around their political activities. Building on the substantive topics covered in other programs, this session, presented by Ronald Jacobs, co-chair of Venable’s Political Law Group, along with associate Alexandra Megaris examines practical ways to implement a government affairs compliance program.
I. Create a political compliance policy to fend off shareholder efforts to control government affairs activities.
II. Invent political compliance procedures for employees and consultants to track lobbying activities
III. Design procedures governing political giving by a PAC and corporation (and employees if the company is subject to pay-to-play laws)
IV. Develop a policy on who may lobbying, what approvals are needed, and who may speak on behalf of the company
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.
Alexandra Megaris is an associate in Venable’s Regulatory Practice Group, where she focuses on compliance and government enforcement matters in a broad range of industries. Ms. Megaris assists clients with civil and criminal investigations before the United States Congress, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, state Attorneys General offices, the U.S. Postal Service, and various other federal and state agencies.
Ms. Megaris advises clients on a variety of advertising, marketing, consumer protection, and general business issues, including compliance with the Consumer Financial Protection Act, FTC Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule. In addition to compliance with these laws and regulations, Ms. Megaris has defended clients in dozens of non-public government investigations and enforcement actions by federal and state enforcement agencies.
She also assists clients with ongoing compliance with all aspects of state and federal political law, including campaign finance, lobbying disclosure, gift and ethics rules, and pay-to-play laws.
New York, New Jersey, District of Columbia
U.S. Supreme Court
J.D., Fordham University School of Law, 2008
B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 2005
This CLE was interesting.
Materials are very substantial
I enjoyed some of the other presenters more.
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