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Our Political Law practice focuses on the fast-paced and ever-changing intersection of law and political activity.


Allen & Overy’s Political Law team is focused exclusively on helping corporate clients develop global political law compliance strategies. We advise global financial institutions and a variety of other corporate clients, including major health insurers, real estate firms, insurance companies, and trade associations, on this increasingly important area of the law. 

 

What sets our practice apart are:

  • Deep U.S. capabilities in all areas, with particular focus on the financial services industry.  We are one of the leading political law practices advising financial institutions and have long-standing relationships with a range of blue-chip financial institutions (including banks, private equity funds, broker-dealers, hedge funds, asset managers, insurance companies, and trade associations). 
  • Global reach.  With experts in Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, and other jurisdictions with emerging political law regimes, we are viewed as one of the only firms capable of advising on global political law issues and designing cross-border political law compliance systems.  We frequently help U.S. corporates expand their public affairs functions globally, while also helping foreign entities expand their public affairs capabilities inside the U.S. 
  • Interactive Political Law Website for clients. We have created an interactive database of relevant political law regimes that contains detailed, user-friendly summaries of lobbying, campaign finance, pay-to-play, gift and entertainment and revolving door regimes for all 50 states and a number of major cities, including New York City, the District of Columbia, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. More information about the website is available here 

We counsel clients in all areas of political law, including:

Lobbying Regulations  

Lobbying laws have historically applied to attempts to influence legislative and regulatory outcomes but have been expanded in recent years to cover efforts to obtain government contracts or investment (often known as "procurement lobbying"). As a result, business people involved in public sector procurement, public pension system investment, and other public sector advisory relationships are now required to register as lobbyists in many jurisdictions. 

Campaign Finance  

Corporate political spending in connection with elections and legislative initiatives is subject to extensive regulation at the federal, state, and local levels, both directly and through various corporate governance mechanisms. Inadequate internal controls regarding corporate political activity can lead to serious legal and reputational consequences. At the federal level, although corporations are prohibited from making contributions to candidates directly, corporations may establish a political action committee (PAC) that can solicit voluntary contributions from certain employees and make contributions to candidates and other PACs. The Supreme Court’s opinion in Citizens United and other recent legal developments have ushered in a new era of campaign spending in U.S. elections. In addition to giving rise to so-called Super PACs, these developments have major implications for the broader regulation of corporate political activity.  

Pay-to-Play  

These laws place restrictions on the ability of government contractors, prospective government contractors and their employees to make and solicit political contributions. Pay-to-play regimes often impose severe penalties on a strict liability basis. Thus, even inadvertent failures to comply with a pay-to-play regime's obligations can result in a company being banned from doing business in a particular jurisdiction for a period of years. 

Gift and Entertainment Laws  

Virtually every jurisdiction restricts the gifts and entertainment (including meals) that parties seeking to do business with the government can provide to public officials and employees. There is substantial variation in gift law requirements across jurisdictions, and different government agencies in a single jurisdiction will often have different gift law rules.  

Post Employment Restrictions  

Hiring former government officials and employees to help navigate a complex regulatory landscape carries its own potential for legal exposure as revolving door rules in most jurisdictions curtail the capacity of these former officials to communicate with and appear before the government agency where they previously served.  

Placement Agent Regimes  

We have deep experience with state, local, and system-specific placement agent regimes, which regulate the solicitation of investment by asset managers from U.S. public pension systems. Placement agent regimes, which combine elements of securities regulation and political law regulations, vary widely from jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction and system to system, and often feature onerous disclosure and certification requirements. We have experience in counselling investment advisers, third party placement agents, and prime brokers in navigating such regimes, from initial solicitation to closing and beyond.  Our placement agent advice is generally grounded in a holistic approach to the complex set of political law issues implicated by soliciting public sector investment, including lobbying, gift, and ethics issues.

Nomination and Confirmation Counseling

Individuals nominated to senior positions in the Executive Branch of the federal government, including senior White House and State Department officials, must navigate a complex web of laws and regulations before they are able to begin their government service. We guide these nominees and their private sector employers through this process by advising them on federal conflict-of-interest, security clearance, and financial disclosure requirements. We also help these individuals formulate strategies for resolving legal and political issues connected to their nomination.

Municipal Advisor Regulations

The SEC’s new municipal advisor regulations address interactions between financial advisors and municipal entities. We provide advice to a number of financial institutions – including global banks, prominent private equity and hedge funds, placement agents, prime brokers, and consulting firms – on the implications of these regulations. We assist clients in developing compliance programs and policies, structuring business lines and client relationships to avoid registration obligations, and preparing new marketing materials to address concerns about regulatory risk. We also provide ongoing compliance and business line support.

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Our political law practice regularly counsels clients on the regulatory and compliance obligations, as well as the political and reputational consequences, of U.S.-based political activity relating to federal and state campaign finance law, including issues pertaining to corporate political spending, Super PACs and other non-profit entities; the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA); state and local lobbying law; the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA); municipal advisor regulation; the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act), the federal pay-to-play rules for municipal dealers, investment advisers, and swap dealers; state and local pay-to-play law; and federal, state, and local law regulating gifts, entertainment, and government ethics.

We regularly represent trade associations and industry groups on political law issues and in connection with rulemakings and consultations. Additionally, our team frequently advises individuals appointed to senior federal and state executive branch positions on conflict-of-interest, security clearance, and financial disclosure requirements and assist appointees in formulating strategies for resolving legal and political issues connected to their appointments or nominations.

We also have experience with established and emerging global political law regimes, including the EU transparency register and the UK lobbying and third-party electioneering regimes. We regularly assist clients in the design and structuring of global public affairs functions, utilizing the resources of our global platform to provide responsive and locally grounded advice through a central point of contact.

Our team also helps clients develop their own internal compliance programs – conducting training, performing internal audits and investigations, designing preclearance regimes and reporting platforms, as well as preparing relevant filings. We also have significant enforcement experience, particularly in the area of pay-to-play, and regularly partner with enforcement attorneys in connection with internal investigations, government inquiries, congressional investigations, and civil and criminal proceedings. We also provide political law advice in connection with a wide variety of transactions, including real estate development and infrastructure projects.​​​

 
Barbara Stettner
Barbara Stettner
Partner
United States
Telephone icon+1 202 683 3850
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Claire Rajan
Claire Rajan
Senior Counsel
United States
Telephone icon+1 202 683 3869
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Alice Englehart
Alice Englehart
Partner
United Kingdom
Telephone icon+44 20 3088 4987
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Jonathan Hitchin
Jonathan Hitchin
Partner
United Kingdom
Telephone icon+44 20 3088 4818
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Russell Butland
Russell Butland
Senior Associate
United Kingdom
Telephone icon+44 203 088 4862
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Maeve Hanna
Maeve Hanna
Senior Associate
United Kingdom
Telephone icon+44 20 3088 1844
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