Robert Lenhard

Robert Lenhard

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.

Subscribe to all posts by Robert Lenhard

Hawaii Pay-To-Play Law Survives Legal Challenge

Despite potential vulnerabilities, Hawaii’s pay-to-play law survived a significant challenge in the Ninth Circuit last week.  The matter involved an electrical-construction company, its CEO and a second individual who challenged several sections of Hawaii’s campaign finance law, including a requirement that the company register and report its activities once it crossed a $1,000 threshold, and … Continue Reading

The FEC Draws A Clear Line

In a decision certain to receive close scrutiny by those representing potential presidential candidates, the FEC has dismissed the allegations made by Stop Hillary PAC against the Super PAC Ready for Hillary, Friends of Hillary and Senator Clinton herself. FEC MUR 6775. The FEC concluded in one part of that decision, that even if Senator … Continue Reading

5 Myths about Super PACs

Few subjects in federal campaign finance law are so frequently garbled by commentators, the press and the public as what a Super PAC is and how it operates.  Here is a short list of common mistakes. 1.  Super PACS are “shadowy” “dark money” groups that mask where their money comes from and how its spent.  … 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

A Pyrrhic Victory? The Impact of Today’s District Court Decision on Electioneering Communications (Van Hollen v. FEC)

A U.S. District Court judge today vacated an FEC regulation that limited the degree to which corporations and labor unions must disclose their donors when they pay for an Electioneering Communication.  Van Hollen v. FEC  An Electioneering Communication is a broadcast, cable or satellite communication that features a federal candidate, airs within 30 days of … Continue Reading

FEC Issues Zero Tolerance Decision on Foreign National Contributions

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

In Chevron Case, FEC Brings Clarity to the Federal Contractor Ban and Super PACs

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

Super PACs Using Candidates’ B-roll Footage and the FEC’s “Own Message” Cases

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’s Changes to the Overtime Pay Rules Could Impact Corporate PACs

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

Covington Releases 2013 FEC Year in Review at its Corporate Political Activity Conference

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

Will McCutcheon Usher in the Era of Super Joint Fundraising Committees?

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 and the FEC: The Impact on Federal PACs and Other Political Committees

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

A Vote on FEC Enforcement—Part II

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

A Vote on FEC Enforcement

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

2012 FEC Year in Review

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

FEC Commissioner Bauerly To Step Down

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

How Much Can a Former Candidate’s Campaign Committee Contribute to a Super PAC?

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

The Press Begins to Scrutinize Donor Compliance with Federal Contribution Limits

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

Corporate Contributions in the District of Columbia — The “Pay-to-Play” Provisions

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

Ouch! Traps for the Unwary In FEC Electioneering Communications Reports

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