Political Compliance, Elections & Campaign Finance

Overview

In recent years, the regulation of political activity has grown exponentially in terms of both sheer volume and exacting scrutiny. Today, every type of political initiative—whether a campaign, a ballot proposal, lobbying initiative, or contributing to a cause—is subject to numerous complex and often overlapping state and federal ethics laws, financial restrictions and reporting requirements. Clients can rely on Dykema’s experienced government policy lawyers and advisors to guide them through this procedural maze so clients can focus their energy on the substantive political issues that most concern them.

Our attorneys and other government policy advisors have broad-based experience handling all aspects of political compliance, election, lobbying and campaign finance laws and regulations on the local, state and federal levels. We work with our clients during the planning and implementation stages to ensure these initiatives comport with all of the pertinent rules from inception, avoiding the need for disruptive corrective action later down the road. We also provide value by making sure “back office” details critical to compliance are handled properly and efficiently, including campaign finance reporting, lobbying disclosures, IRS filings and banking, budgeting and general accounting responsibilities.

Whether interpreting a statewide ballot question, helping establish Section 527 accounts for "soft-money" contributions, setting up civic action or charitable entities related to a public official, or assisting a client in forming a political action committee (PAC), Dykema attorneys are well versed in the corporate, tax and regulatory aspects of all stages of these election, campaign finance and lobby law projects.

We counsel corporations, trade associations, nonprofits, PACs, governments, political parties and individual clients on:

Political Compliance and Ethics

We help clients comply with the sometimes inconsistent federal and state lobbying laws—including the Lobbying Disclosure Act’s stringent reporting requirements—and to conduct their lobbying activities consistent with controlling ethics rules and laws. We perform compliance audits and help clients to establish fail-safe internal control systems so that they track their reportable activities as those activities occur; thus, ensuring timely and accurate reporting.

We guide our corporate, trade association and nonprofit clients to ensure their political activities stay within the scope of those allowed for their type of entity. We also conduct compliance audits, help clients to form PACs and Section 527 political committees and advise them on related governance issues, and represent clients in the event of an ethics or other investigation.

Our clients rely on our extensive experience to avoid the many possible pitfalls on the road to political compliance and ethical political conduct.

Election Law

Our governmental policy attorneys are infinitely familiar with election-related legal issues. We advise our clients on compliance with federal and state election laws, answer their referenda and ballot related questions, analyze ballot initiatives, and help them challenge or defend initiatives.

Dykema governmental policy attorneys are well versed in the three major "Rs" of election law—redistricting, recounts and recalls—and have over three decades of experience in federal and state legislative redistricting, including strategy and litigation efforts on behalf of the State of Michigan. Our attorneys have counseled multiple clients in election recount and election dispute matters, including federal, state and local races, and have represented both statewide and legislative elected officials in defense of recall efforts against them, including dozens of recall clarity hearings, recall campaign financing matters, and Michigan Supreme Court litigation on matters of first impression.

Campaign Finance

We have a solid understanding of federal and state campaign finance laws. We help our clients navigate the myriad of laws and regulations that together create a highly complex campaign finance system. We partner with our clients to develop compliance plans to effectively track and disclose political contributions, and advise them on such matters as political contribution limits, proper use of corporate facilities for political activities, in-kind contributions and appropriate payments to or expenditures of PACs. We also have experience in setting up Public Officeholder Accounts to use corporate and union funds for eligible office expenses.

We advise candidates, political parties and others on the federal and state election registration, reporting and advertising restrictions, and on matters relating to the running of a campaign such as contract and employment matters.

Experience Matters

  • Represented the Michigan Chamber of Commerce in the landmark United States Supreme Court campaign finance case, Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 50 (2010), as amicus curiae in support of overturning the corporate independent expenditure ban that was upheld in Austin v Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652 (1990). Our election attorneys first became involved in the Austin case back in 1985, and have been involved with major election and campaign finance matters in Michigan since that time. The positive result in this case has allowed our clients to explore multiple new options for participation in the election and political processes.

  • Successfully represented an elected official in defense of recall efforts against him.

  • Counseled hundreds of clients on matters involving the establishment of politically-related accounts.

  • Served as general counsel to the Michigan Board of State Canvassers and the Department of State on all election, campaign finance and lobby law matters for over 20 years.

  • Successfully led the State of Michigan's defense of its congressional redistricting plan subsequent to the 2000 decennial census.

  • Successfully represented the Secretary of State's interpretation of the Campaign Finance Act.

  • Advised presidential campaigns, United States Senate campaigns, and gubernatorial candidates, as well as state house, senate, and judicial candidates regarding state and federal campaign finance law, election law, and compliance issues.

Speaking Engagements