Craig Engle

Partner at
Arent Fox LLP

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Craig Engle is the founder of Arent Fox’s Political Law practice and has 30 years’ experience in advising political committees, non-profits, candidates and office holders, corporations, high-net-worth individuals and state governments on all aspects of campaign finance, election and tax laws, ethics, and the creation of public policy.


Craig joined the firm in 2001 after a distinguished career on Capitol Hill and regularly consults with clients and attorneys in 12 of Arent Fox’s Practice and Industry Groups.


Client Work

  • Craig’s clients have included several hundred candidates, political committees, non-profits, Fortune 500 and start-up corporations, office holders, law firms, sports franchises, individuals and governments. Craig regularly counsels these clients in the highly regulated and scrutinized areas of:
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulation of campaign finance practices for PACs, candidates and party committees
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulation of political activity of non-profits and trade associations
  • Lobbying disclosure Act (LDA) and Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Compliance
  • Congressional Ethics (HLOGA) and Executive Branch Lobbying and Professional Conduct Laws
  • Federal Communication Commission (FCC) regulation of broadcast commercials and internetbased or social media political activity
  • Department of Justice (DOJ) enforcement of civil and criminal laws regarding white collar investigations, false claims, fraud, and government contracting
  • 50 state and federal (MSRB, SEC) laws regarding pay-to-play rules, state lobbying and (FPPC) campaign finance regulation, and laws governing instate charitable and political solicitations
  • Congressional investigation and litigation defense strategies for targets of governmental and private sector adverse actions , and special counsel for internal investigations
  • Media relations, contract negotiation and enforcement, audits, governmental affairs, government contracting compliance and international legal relations
  • Voting rights, election administration, ballot referendum, contested elections and recounts
  • Special counsel to cities, colleges and universities, and governmental districts for fraud recovery and internal investigations

Previous Work

Craig has served as general counsel to two presidential campaigns, co-authored three amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court, counseled over 100 candidates and Members of Congress and personally supervised the banking and reporting of over $300 million in campaign activities. Craig has helped dozens of Arent Fox clients create corporations, non-profit and political committees by serving as their incorporator, initial board member and assistant treasurer.


Craig currently serves as the general counsel to several national membership associations and multi-million dollar political committees. He also is a regular consultant to Congressional committees and political appointees who are seeking to investigate various aspects of federal law.


Craig also has a particular focus on New York and California state and local matters including municipal contracts, litigation, inter-governmental relations, public disclosure and defense of office holders.


Craig is probably best-known for bringing innovation to politics. He created one of the first SuperPacs, created the legal framework for texting political contributions, won several Advisory Opinions at the FEC opening new areas of law, successfully defeated New York State’s Anti- Citizens United Law in the Second Circuit, participated in striking DOMA in United States v. Windsor, and created new corporate forms for political activity. He is the co-author of several ballot referenda and campaign finance reform laws.


Craig served as General Counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) from 1995-2000. In that capacity he was responsible for the legal matters of a $90 million-per-cycle Republican National Political Party Committee. At the NRSC Craig created the first-ever independent expenditure by a political party. He acted as counselor to Members of the US Senate, their campaign committees, and candidates on all aspects of election and office-holder laws.


From 1985-1995 Craig served at the Federal Election Commission as Legal and Executive Assistant to a Commissioner. Craig wrote the first “Statement of Reasons” and created the system now in use by the Commissioners in litigation. He also oversaw litigation, regulatory and enforcement matters brought under the Federal Election Campaign Act.


Publications, Presentations and Recognitions

A frequent commenter on key political events, Craig has been featured in leading news publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, and on CNN and ABC Nightly. Craig is often a source for analysis and commentary about the ongoing investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s political and non-profit tax targeting controversy.


The Washington Post has described Craig as “a lawyer, a very important lawyer.” In every year from 2006 to 2014, Chambers USA has recognized Craig as one of the nation’s leading political law attorneys. In 2000, he was named one of “Politics Fabulous Fifty” by the influential Capitol Hill publication Roll Call. In 2009, 2013, and 2015, he was named one of Washingtonian’s “Top Lawyers for Campaigns and Elections” in their biennial list. Craig was also recognized by Super Lawyers from 2007 to 2009 and again from 2013 to 2015.


He is a popular writer, speaker, and panelist on a wide range of federal and legislative issues, and has served as a guest lecturer at the Georgetown University Law Center, American University College of Law, George Washington Law School and George Mason Law School.


Craig’s publications include:

  • “Same Sex Marriage and the 1st Amendment” (2015 publication pending)
  • “Does McCain-Feingold Violate the 10th Amendment, Too?” 2003
  • “What Happened to Campaign Finance Reform?,” Arent Fox legal update; 2003
  • “How Much Democracy Does $1,000 Buy?” Legal Times; May 4, 1998
  • “Buckley Over Time: A New Problem with Old Contribution Limits,” Notre Dame Law School of Legislation; 1998 (Vol. 24, No. 2)

His speaking engagements include:

  • Special Study presenter to IRS Criminal Investigators on non-profits and political law; (date pending) 2015
  • Guest Lecturer, American University School of Law: Trends in Election Law; 2015
  • Association of Community Colleges and Public Policy; 2014
  • Featured Speaker: State Financial Officers Association on MSRB and SEC Political Contributor Regulations, and the legal ramifications of the Detroit Bankruptcy; 2013
  • Featured speaker, Brazilian Electoral Court; 2011
  • Guest speaker, Mexican Electoral Court; 2010, 2011
  • Election law speaker, Republican National Lawyers Association; 2010
  • Testified before Nevada Governor’s SAGE Commission; 2009
  • Testified before Federal Election Commission; 2009
  • Panelist on Presidential Elections, Notre Dame University; 2003
  • State Government Leadership Foundation; 2003
  • Keynote Speaker, Republican National Lawyers Association Annual Meeting; 2001
  • Guest Lecturer, Georgetown University and George Washington University Law Center Seminars; 1996
  • Instructor and Commentator, Federal Election Commission Arbitration and Mediator Training Conference; 2000
  • Council on Governmental Ethics Laws National Conference; 1999

Bar and Court Admissions

District of Columbia Bar Ohio Bar

Supreme Court of Ohio

Supreme Court of the United States

US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit



Georgetown University Law Center, JD 

University of Cincinnati, BA (summa cum laude)


Life Beyond the Law

Craig is a collector of the artwork of the famous New Yorker illustrator Peter Arno and French poster artist Leonetto Cappiello. Craig was featured, along with his collection of Holiday Inn postcards, in a Washington Post “Style Section” article titled “The Collector.” He is also an average bridge player.


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