Robert Lenhard is a member of the firm’s Election & Political Law practice group and advises corporations, trade associations, not-for-profit organizations, and high-net-worth individuals on compliance with federal and state campaign finance, lobbying, and government ethics laws.
Mr. Lenhard routinely assists clients in establishing and operating federal and state PACs, compliance programs associated with campaign finance and pay-to-play laws; advises advocacy groups and their donors; conducts compliance trainings and audits of federal and state lobbying and political programs; and counsels clients on compliance with congressional gift and travel rules.
Prior to joining the firm in 2008, Mr. Lenhard served as Chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in 2007 and Vice Chairman of the agency in 2006, during which time the agency handled over 10 major rulemakings, had among its most productive years in enforcement and audit, and adopted several reforms to the enforcement process. Mr. Lenhard has also led the Presidential Transition Team that reviewed the FEC for the incoming Obama administration in 2008-2009.
In a little noticed decision earlier this month, the FEC announced the settlement of an enforcement case that sets a compliance standard that few companies may currently meet. FEC ADR Case 708 (Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. PAC). The outcome is even more surprising because the case involved a single errant donor the company brought … Continue Reading
The rules on corporate contributions to Super PACs were made clearer today when the Federal Election Commission (FEC) released its finding that Chevron Corporation’s $2.5 million contribution in 2012 to the Congressional Leadership Fund (a Super PAC) had not violated the bar on government contractors making contributions in federal elections. Public Citizen and several environmental … Continue Reading
Today, in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court struck down the complex array of overall limits on federal political contributions that have been in force since 1974. Covington issued a detailed advisory analyzing the opinion and its consequences. We refer our blog readers to that advisory for the details.… Continue Reading
The press and comedians have recently focused on campaigns loading “B-roll” footage onto Internet sites where Super PACs and other outside spending groups can download the footage to use in political ads. Senator McConnell’s campaign’s use of this tactic has drawn the most attention, but it is far from the first or only campaign to … Continue Reading
The Obama administration announced yesterday that it will revise the regulations that define if an individual is an “executive” or “administrative” employee exempt from the overtime pay provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This could have an unexpected impact on corporate PACs, potentially shrinking the number of employees eligible to be solicited for … Continue Reading
In conjunction with the Corporate Political Activity and Government Affairs Compliance Conference, which Covington is hosting today in Washington, D.C., the firm’s Election and Political Law Practice Group has issued its 2013 FEC Year in Review. This is the second year in a row that we have undertaken a systematic study of the major developments … Continue Reading
If the Supreme Court strikes down the biennial limit on the amount an individual can contribute to all federal candidates, political parties and PACs, the most immediate effect may be to expand the role of Joint Fundraising Committees (JFCs) in campaign finance. JFC’s allow candidates, party committees and PACs to join together for fundraising events … Continue Reading
The federal shutdown has resulted in the furlough of all FEC employees except the Commissioners. As with most agencies, the greatest impact on the regulated community will appear over time: On-line data will grow stale, advisory opinions will be delayed, enforcement cases will not advance. The FEC has summarized the process here. For political committees, … Continue Reading
The Senate Committee on Rules and Administration held a hearing this morning to consider the nominations of Ann Miller Ravel and Lee E. Goodman to serve as Members of the Federal Election Commission. It was smooth sailing for the nominees, with Members of Congress and nominees alike lamenting the current state of affairs and agreeing … Continue Reading
Yesterday’s post noted several proposed changes to the Federal Election Commission’s Enforcement Manual that are likely to prove controversial. Yet there are also proposals in that same document that merit serious consideration, if not outright support, from all on the Commission. Here are just some suggestions of proposals that could win bi-partisan support. Applying the … Continue Reading
The Federal Election Commission made public two versions of its Enforcement Manual today, one based on current practices for handling the agency’s enforcement docket, and one proposing a dramatic shift in how cases could be handled in the future. The choice between the two versions may be up for discussion at the agency’s next open … Continue Reading
The FEC is often caricatured as either a “sleeping watch dog” or the “speech police.” We decided to take a more balanced look at the agency’s work in 2012, to see if we could identify broader trends or decisions that were overlooked at the time, but which seem likely to have long-term significance. The results … Continue Reading
Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly of the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) announced to Commission staff today that she will be leaving the agency effective February 1. What does this mean for business before the FEC? As a practical matter, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the FEC’s day-to-day business. It is not uncommon for … Continue Reading
That is the question before the Federal Election Commission on Thursday at its next open meeting. In a draft Advisory Opinion posted Friday, the preliminary answer is that a former candidate’s campaign committee faces no limits on contributions to a Super PAC. The question is posed by former candidate, Mike Haridopolos. He dropped out of … Continue Reading
As attention turns to the importance of voter turnout in deciding this election, a complaint filed in Colorado last week highlights a perennial in election law: restrictions on paying people to register or vote. While paying for votes with cash is rare, well-meaning offers of free pizza, coffee, t-shirts or ice cream can face the … Continue Reading
The final fundraising push of 2012 is on and politically active individuals with substantial net worth need to be particularly careful to comply with the overall aggregate contribution limits, as well as with the sub-limits on giving to federal candidates, party committees and PACs. On Friday, Reuters had a story on a prominent donor and … Continue Reading
Following up on last week’s post, we wanted to highlight the “pay-to-play” provisions in D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s proposal to amend the District’s campaign finance laws. The legislation is undergoing a public comment period until September 17th, and will then be sent to the D.C. Council. In its simplest form, the proposal is hard to … Continue Reading
Today, the FEC issued a formal statement on the impact of the D.C. District Court’s decision this spring in Van Hollen v. FEC. The conclusion — the disclosure regulations are to be applied as originally written, and the agency will employ common sense definitions of several terms. As a result of the court decision (which … Continue Reading
On July 13, the FEC announced a settlement with Americans for Common Sense Solutions. The group agreed to pay a penalty of $9,000 for failing to report $121,000 in electioneering commutations attacking Reps. Capps (D – Calif.) and Cicilline (D-R.I.) within 60 days of the November 2010 general election. FEC MUR 6443. The group’s defense: … Continue Reading