Like every other legal field, the landscape of political law, including political contributions and election administration, has been impacted by the COVID pandemic. Elections are being delayed, some election procedures have been changed, and most others will be re-evaluated in the coming months.
As businesses are interacting more with federal, state, and local governments due to the economic fallout from widespread “stay at home” orders and social distancing, registration and reporting requirements must be taken into account. Across the country, state and local governments are changing their gift rules to allow for more donations from businesses. Although fundraisers have moved into the virtual world, campaign finance regulations are still in effect.
Presented by Ronald Jacobs and Meredith McCoy, this program will analyze changes to political giving and election administration during the COVID pandemic.
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:
Meredith McCoy provides experienced guidance to businesses, tax-exempt organizations, individuals, and political groups in their efforts to impact public policy and the political process. She works with clients to understand their goals and make tailored recommendations for complying with the range of laws that may affect their plans, including tax, campaign finance, lobbying disclosure, gift and ethics, and pay-to-play laws. Meredith’s previous experience as an attorney for the Federal Election Commission helps her foresee compliance challenges and evaluate risks facing Venable’s clients. She is skilled at providing a practical, user-friendly guide that helps clients make informed decisions and achieve their objectives.
Meredith’s experience includes providing guidance to for-profit businesses, individuals, and 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), 501(c)(6), and 527 organizations. She assists clients in their advocacy efforts and offers general counseling at all stages of an organization’s life cycle. Her experience includes:
Organization formation and ongoing governance counseling
Guidance on IRS restrictions on lobbying and political activities
Gift and ethics compliance and training (federal, state, local)
Campaign finance disclosure and compliance programs (federal, state, local)
Limits and disclosure of political contributions
Campaign finance enforcement actions
Ballot access and election administration
Pay-to-play rules and political giving policies
Before joining Venable, Meredith served as an attorney at the Federal Election Commission. As part of the Office of General Counsel, she handled complex enforcement actions, providing legal recommendations to the Commission on a variety of issues, including testing-the-waters activity and candidate status, conduit contributions, candidates’ use of personal assets for campaign activity, coordination, fraudulent misrepresentation, and candidate debates.
Meredith served as a law clerk to the Honorable Christopher C. Conner in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. During law school, she also served as a legal fellow to several nonprofit organizations specializing in voting rights and campaign finance issues.
Serves as general counsel to an organization of female filmmakers, engineering and overseeing compliance for a multi-state effort to provide low- or no-cost campaign ads to state and local candidates in compliance with state contribution limits and source restrictions
Represents a high-profile super PAC that spent more than $50 million in 2018 U.S. House races, reviewing all content and disclosure reports for compliance
Counsels candidates for U.S. Congress and potential presidential candidates on the FEC’s “testing-the-waters” regulations, personal financial disclosure statements, ballot access, interactions without outside groups, and other complex rules
Vets political giving by corporations, LLCs, partnerships, PACs, and high-net-worth individuals to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local contribution limits, source restrictions, and pay-to-play laws, and conducts due diligence on recipients to minimize public relations exposure
Advises major media companies on parameters of the FEC’s “press exemption” for airing political content
Provides parameters for trade association PACs and recommends mechanisms for maximizing PAC fundraising efforts
Timely presentation . More substantive and complex than one would think especially regarding Digital Advocacy and filings, Zoom interactions, etc...
Good introduction to the topic. More to come later!
Great topic. Thank you.