Political Law Compliance

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Our Political Law group provides bipartisan expertise to clients engaged in political activity at all levels of government.  Our team has extensive experience advising on compliance matters, including campaign finance, lobbying and government ethics laws; election laws; the tax implications of political activity; and the reputational risks associated with political activity. 

The Political Law group serves a broad client base, including corporations, trade groups, nonprofits, political organizations and public as well as private individuals.  Our goal is to maximize the scope and effectiveness of our clients' political activities by ensuring they are fully compliant with federal, state and local law.  Here are some of the ways we help our political law clients:

  • Our attorneys audit clients' political activity programs and develop compliance policies, procedures and training programs to help ensure that clients' campaign, advocacy, fundraising and other political initiatives comply with all applicable laws.
  • We establish federal and state political actions committees (PACs), advocacy groups and other entities for our clients, and advise them on soliciting and making contributions, their reporting obligations and member/donor confidentiality. 
  • We provide advice to clients regarding compliance with federal and state lobbying and gift laws, and prepare, review and submit disclosure reports to regulators. 
  • We represent individuals and organizations in rulemaking proceedings and other advisory opinion request proceedings.
  • We have extensive experience representing clients in audits and investigations conducted by federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, Federal Election Commission, Government Accountability Office, Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission, as well as the United States Congress, and various state and local regulatory agencies.  


Our Political Law group has the experience, expertise, knowledge and judgment to help ensure that our clients are fully compliant with all applicable laws and rules in today's era of heightened scrutiny of political activity.

Federal Lobbyists Must Now Disclose Past Convictions

As the April 22 deadline approaches for submitting quarterly federal lobbying reports, organizations that employ or retain lobbyists must be aware of new registration and reporting obligations.

DC Federal District Court Voids FEC Independent Expenditure Reporting Rule - Expands Donor Disclosure

In an opinion released on August 3rd, US District Court Judge Beryl Howell greatly expanded the FEC donor disclosure reporting requirements for independent groups – like Section 501(4) and 501(c)(6) organizations – that sponsor independent expenditures and other candidate advocacy communications.  The court delayed the implementation of its ruling for 45 days to give the FEC time to draft interim rules.

Stand Up and Be Heard in an Election Year

Nonprofit organizations are often overly cautious in speaking out about their causes and interacting with candidates in election years for fear of violating a complex set of laws and rules. You can and should participate in the election-year conversation. Here’s how. 

IRS Ignites Political Firestorm by Eliminating the Requirement for Most Nonprofit Organizations to Submit Confidential Donor Information to the IRS

On July 16, 2018, the IRS announced that it has eliminated the requirement for most nonprofit organizations to provide confidential donor information to the IRS on Schedule B to their annual IRS Form 990.  Although limited in scope and with no impact on public transparency, the change has significant political ramifications and has ignited a firestorm of support and condemnation across the political spectrum.  This includes a partisan Senate Finance Committee vote and delay in the Senate confirmation vote on the new IRS Commissioner.

Political Law Notes - August 2018

Stand Up and Be Heard in an Election Year

DC Federal District Court Voids FEC Independent Expenditure Reporting Rule- Expands Donor Disclosure

IRS Ignites Political Firestorm by Eliminating the Requirement for Most Nonprofit Organizations to Submit Confidential Donor Information to the IRS

Corporate Political Contributions Webcast

DC Partner Jim Kahl and Nancy Bukar, Sodexo Vice President of Government Affairs & Assistant General Counsel, co-presented to The Association of Corporate Counsel (National Capital Region) in a webcast last Tuesday on “Election Year Corporate Political Activity: Understanding the Legal Risks and Strategic Opportunities.”

Associations Now Features WTP Political Law Partners

A recent article in Associations Now features DC-based political Law partners Jim Kahl and Jeff Altman. “Whether you see an opportunity to advance your agenda or a need to defend members’ interests, it’s wise to reexamine your government relations strategy right now,” says Kahl. “What we know now is that a Republican majority means organizations need to be ready to respond to bills immediately,” says Altman. “With the new Congress, legislation will be passed very quickly.”

Political Law Notes - February 2017

2017 is not yet fifty days old and there have already been several significant developments in the political law arena, and many more are likely to follow.  Lobbyists and others that interact with the federal government have to contend with new ethics rules.  New federal political contribution limits have been approved by the Federal Election Commission.

Nonprofit Lobbying: The Rules You Need to Know

Whether your organization has a long lobbying track record or is starting fresh with a new administration, you need to know how federal lobbying, tax, and gift rules will affect your advocacy work. Here's a primer for beginners and a refresher for veterans.

WTP Political Law Expert Kahl Quoted In Boston Globe

Whiteford, Taylor & Preston Political Law expert James Kahl was quoted this week in an article in the Boston Globe about potential campaign finance violations by a Massachusetts law firm.

The 2016 Elections and Beyond -- Last Minute Opportunities and Compliance Challenges Ahead

The final weeks of the 2016 election season continue to offer unique opportunities to drive interest and support for your industry, profession or cause. Whatever your tax status, you have a constitutionally protected right to conduct a wide range of educational, issue advocacy and lobbying activities in order to engage your members, donors, the general public, policy makers, and candidates. Trade associations and social welfare organizations can do much more to help elect their preferred candidates. Although compliance with tax, election, ethics and lobbying laws can be challenging, they also offer opportunities, not obstacles, to generate interest and support for your public policy goals in these final days of the 2016 election season and beyond. 

Political Law Notes - October 2016

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Whiteford Political Law Notes -- Whiteford, Taylor & Preston’s quarterly political law newsletter. Our objective is to provide our clients and friends with concise analysis of developments in the fast-changing field of federal and state campaign finance, lobbying, tax, and government ethics laws and rules. We will also provide practical tips for making strategic use of the laws and rules in this area to advance your organization’s political, advocacy and policy goals.

Our CEO Wants to Host a Candidate Fundraiser: What Are the Risks?

Every election year, corporations, associations, their PACs, and their leaders are asked to host or participate in fundraising events for federal candidates.   All incorporated entities –  corporations, trade associations, or advocacy organizations – are barred from making contributions (monetary or in-kind) to any candidate for federal office.  As we enter the heart of the 2016 election year, corporation and association leaders must make sure that their organizations know the rules for participating in federal fundraising events or risk significant monetary penalties and adverse publicity.

Top 5 Political Law Compliance Tips for 2016

Another election year is upon us, and once again federal and state candidates are on track to raise and spend unprecedented sums for their election efforts.  That means corporations, trade associations, 501(c)(4) advocacy organizations, their political action committees (“PACs”), leaders, members and donors will be inundated with political contribution requests.  They may also be asked to help candidates and political parties in other ways, such as hosting fundraisers or providing in-kind contributions of goods or services. 

Whiteford Political Law Notes

We are pleased to announce the inaugural issue of Whiteford Political Law Notes -- Whiteford, Taylor & Preston’s quarterly political law newsletter. Our objective is to provide our clients and friends with concise analysis of developments in the fast-changing field of federal and state campaign finance, lobbying, tax, and government ethics laws and rules.