Derek Lawlor

Derek Lawlor

Derek Lawlor is an associate in the firm’s Washington office and a member of the firm’s Election & Political Law and White Collar practice groups.  He assists corporations, nonprofit organizations, and trade associations with federal and state lobbying, campaign finance, and government ethics issues.  Mr. Lawlor also represents clients in government investigations and inquiries conducted by the Federal Election Commission, Office of Congressional Ethics, and Congressional Committees and Commissions.  Prior to receiving his law degree, Mr. Lawlor worked in the Office of General Counsel at the U.S. House of Representatives.

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FEC Increases Contribution Limits to Party Committees, Leaves Candidate Limits the Same

The Federal Election Commission has announced contribution limits for the 2017-2018 election cycle.  The new limits are effective January 1, 2017. The FEC did not change the limit on the amount an individual can contribution to a candidate, leaving the limit at $2700 per election.  Because the primary and general count as separate elections, individuals may … Continue Reading

Covington Publishes Comprehensive Advisory Comparing Trump and Obama Executive Orders on Ethics

President Donald Trump this weekend signed his promised “drain the swamp” Executive Order, which imposes ethics restrictions on incoming and outgoing Trump Administration appointees. Incoming appointees would, of course, do well to carefully review the provisions of the Executive Order. But companies that deal with the Administration—whether by lobbying the executive branch, by seeing a … Continue Reading

Presidential Appointees Can Take Advantage of 2014 OGE Guidance on Hedge Funds

As the President-elect begins to nominate individuals for Senate-confirmed positions in his administration, one of the major hurdles these individuals face is the statutory requirement that the Director of the Office of Government Ethics (“OGE”) review and certify a public disclosure of each source of income exceeding $200 and each property interest exceeding $1,000 in … Continue Reading

New Year, New Gift Rules for the Federal Executive Branch

Corporations, trade associations, and others who interact with federal executive branch employees should be aware of the Office of Government Ethics’ (OGE) recent amendments to the executive branch gift rules, which go into effect on January 1, 2017. Seeking to encourage transparency and advance public confidence in the integrity of federal officials, OGE redefined some … Continue Reading

The 2017 Presidential Inauguration: Ethics and Compliance Issues

With Election Day 2016 in the books, the political world turns to the transition of power and the January 20, 2017 Inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. With the swearing in of the new President and Vice President will come the traditional balls, parties, and receptions. The inauguration and related events … Continue Reading

Guidelines for Interacting with President-Elect Trump’s Transition Team

Over the next nine weeks, the Trump Presidential Transition team will formulate policy and staffing recommendations for the new administration. This alert gives a broad overview of the Transition and the laws that regulate interactions with Transition team members on issues related to appointments and policy recommendations. Persons interested in this topic may also wish … Continue Reading

The Senate’s District Court Win in the Backpage Subpoena Fight Could Have Significant Implications for Congressional Investigations

Last week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in a rare case that has the potential to contribute significantly to the case law concerning congressional investigations. It is uncommon for a federal court to have an opportunity to rule on a congressional … Continue Reading

House Clerk’s Office Apparently Sends Out Late Lobbyist Report Notices In Error

Earlier this afternoon, the House Clerk’s Office sent out emails to a number of registered federal lobbyists and lobbyist organizations alerting them to a missing 2016 Mid-Year LD-203 contribution report (due on August 1, 2016).  It appears that this email was sent in error to a batch of registrants who properly filed their reports on … Continue Reading

Forming and Operating Super PACs: A Practical Guide for Political Consultants in 2016

Covington recently released a high-level primer that provides political consultants with a practical resource for creating and running a federal Super PAC in a legally compliant manner.  The primer, which is available here, explains the history and basic rules that apply to federal Super PACs.  The primer then discusses the following key topics: checklist of … Continue Reading

California Approves Strict Rules on Super PAC Coordination

California has existing regulations that define when expenditures by outside groups, including super PACs, are coordinated with candidates and become illegal contributions to those campaigns.  These rules create a presumption of coordination under certain circumstances.  Yesterday, the Fair Political Practices Commission (“FPPC”) approved revisions to its rules on independent expenditures and coordination that expand the … Continue Reading

National Party 2.0: FECA Amendments in Omnibus Spending Bill Increase Fundraising Power of National Parties

If you skipped to the final pages of the omnibus spending bill unveiled last night to see how it ends, you would find a rather dramatic change in campaign finance law related to party committee contribution limits.  Page 1599 (of 1603) of the spending package contains amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) that … Continue Reading

Seventh Circuit Upholds Indiana Statute Regulating Interstate Political Robocalls

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the application of Indiana’s telemarking statute to interstate political calls was not preempted by federal law.  You can read more details on the case, Patriotic Veterans v. Indiana, on Covington’s Inside Privacy blog.  One important takeaway from the case is that it is always important to … Continue Reading

Non-Profit Donor Disclosure Rules in New York Are Now In Effect

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced today that he has adopted regulations requiring non-profits engaging in certain electioneering activity in New York, including 501(c)(4) organizations, to disclose their donors.  We previously wrote on the proposed rules, which after a series of public hearings, have been slightly modified and adopted by the Attorney General.  The … Continue Reading

Florida Amends Campaign Finance Law, Increasing Contribution Limits

Yesterday, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a campaign finance bill into law just hours before a midnight deadline.  The new measure makes a number of changes to Florida’s campaign finance laws, including the following: Contribution limits increased from a uniform $500 limit to $1,000 for legislative and local offices and $3,000 for statewide offices.  New … Continue Reading

New Push for Donor Disclosure in New York

The New York Attorney General proposed today a broad plan requiring nonprofit organizations involved in New York state elections to disclose the nonprofit’s donors and electoral advocacy activity.  This proposed rule comes on the heels of a new rule in New York requiring organizations that lobby to disclose certain donors.  The AG’s proposed rule, however, … Continue Reading

Hiring from the House: Committee on Ethics Issues Guidance on House Members and Staff Seeking and Entering into New Employment

The House Committee on Ethics has issued two memoranda—one to Members and officers and the other to staff—detailing the restrictions placed on these individuals when negotiating future employment and entering the private workforce.  While this guidance is directed to those within the House of Representatives, it provides a useful description of the issues private employers … Continue Reading

FCC Issues “Enforcement Advisory” on Political Telephone Calls

Yesterday,  the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau issued a timely advisory on the statutes and rules restricting political telephone calls.  In the high season for election activity, the FCC hopes that the Advisory will lead to greater compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) and Commission rules, warning that “the TCPA and … Continue Reading

FEC Approves a Less Expensive Path to Larger Text Message Contributions

In June, the FEC approved a process for making text message political contributions limited to $50 per month.  In August, the FEC clarified the compliance responsibilities related to these small, anonymous text message contributions.  Now, just three weeks later, the FEC has approved a process for making text message contributions that exceed $50 per month … Continue Reading

MSRB Seeks Increased Disclosure on Bond Ballot Contributions to Address Pay-to-Play Concerns

Many state and local jurisdictions allow voters to decide whether the jurisdiction should issue bonds to fund municipal projects.  The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) is concerned that municipal securities dealers are using political contributions to these bond ballot campaigns to secure business by the issuer of the bonds on the ballot.  Yesterday, the MSRB … Continue Reading

FEC Approves Text Message Political Contributions … Again

The FEC made public today two advisory opinions, AO 2012-26 (m-Qube II) and 2012-28 (CTIA), that clarify the permissibility of political contributions via text message.  Though the FEC gave general approval to text message contributing in AO 2012-17 (m-Qube I), campaigns and service providers sought additional guidance from the FEC to ensure compliance with the … Continue Reading
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