Client and Industry Challenges
Whether a client requires advice on the intricacies of campaign contributions/expenditures, mobilizing grassroots involvement of employees or members, using corporate resources to entertain or fundraise, or creating nonprofit entities and coalitions to deliver an industry's messages to government decision-makers, Snell & Wilmer's campaign finance and election law attorneys have the bipartisan, hands-on experience to help our clients succeed in today's political and business environment. Our team assists with managing political activities to help accomplish individual or organizational goals.
Clients We Serve
Our clients include large and small business entities (including corporations, LLCs, and partnerships), unions, political action committees (PACs), trade associations, social welfare organizations, charities and foundations, political organizations (IRC § 527s), candidates and office holders, state and local political parties, issue advocacy groups, donors, and political consultants.
Campaign Finance Compliance Counseling
We frequently advise individuals and associations regarding political action committee (PAC) establishment, administration and solicitation issues, along with campaign finance reporting to federal, state, and local election officials. In addition, we can assist clients in outsourcing their PAC reporting responsibilities, seeking advisory opinions from the FEC and state agencies, influence rulemakings, defend clients against administrative complaints in enforcement actions, and represent political committees and campaigns subject to audit or investigation.
Corporate Political Activity Counseling
We assist corporations establish connected federal and/or state PACs, advise corporate PACs regarding administration and fundraising issues, review required campaign finance reports, counsel individual employees and management on workplace political activity, guide corporations and PACs on contributions, expenditures and endorsements, and provide training sessions for staff. Furthermore, we advise corporate clients about the vast array of political activity that is permissible under federal and state law, especially in light of the United States Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United vs. FEC.
Issue Advocacy and Independent Expenditures
Issue advocacy and independent expenditure campaigns (including ballot measure campaigns) are key vehicles to influence matters of public importance. We advise businesses, organizations, and individuals on their First Amendment rights in conjunction with these campaigns, as well as assist in structuring organizations to help them comply with federal and state law governing such efforts.
Nonprofit and Tax Exempt Organizations
Forming a tax exempt organization – whether it be an IRC § 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, § 501(c)(6) trade association, or § 527 political organization – can often be the most effective vehicle to conduct political advocacy. Our election law attorneys are frequently called upon to advise donors and activists about the most effective way to structure these new non-profit political ventures. We advise with respect to the formation, operation, and tax treatment of tax-exempt organizations, including registration of such organizations under state charitable solicitation laws and applications to the IRS for recognition of tax-exempt status. We also counsel charitable, educational, and religious institutions on how to avoid political activities that jeopardize tax-exempt status. Additionally, we routinely handle ongoing compliance, corporate governance, employment, contract, and commercial matters for our non-profit clients.
Election Law Litigation
We have the depth of experience to handle any election law, First Amendment, or constitutional litigation that affects the political process. From our offices throughout the country, we can represent clients before federal district courts, appellate courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as in state courts. This representation may also involve equal protection and due process challenges to election laws, voting rights issues, redistricting, ballot access cases, and defense of clients before Federal Election Commission (FEC) and state officials.
In the last several years, there have been an unprecedented level of criminal indictments and convictions of corporate executives involved in federal and state campaign fundraising and lobbying activities, with significant fines and/or criminal sentences. There has also been an increase in the number of civil actions and audits brought by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against political activists and candidates. Whether it is the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), FEC, or state attorney general pursuing such allegations, the need for knowledge of campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics law is paramount.
We also represent clients in legislative and grand jury investigations, as well as in federal and state administrative enforcement proceedings stemming from their participation in the political process.