Zachary G. Parks

Zachary G. Parks

Zachary Park advises a wide range of corporate and political clients on federal and state campaign finance, lobbying disclosure, pay to play, and government ethics laws. Mr. Parks regularly advises corporations and corporate executives on instituting political law compliance programs and conducts compliance training for senior corporate executives and lobbyists. He also has extensive experience conducting corporate internal investigations concerning campaign finance and lobbying law compliance and has defended clients in investigations by the Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee.

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FEC Issues New Guidance On Donor Disclosure for Entities Making Independent Expenditures

On September 18, the Supreme Court left in place the district court decision in CREW v. FEC, a case that dramatically increased the disclosure obligations for nonprofits and other entities that spend money on public communications that encourage people to vote for or against specific candidates. We previously described the anticipated effects of the CREW … Continue Reading

PLI Current Highlights New Wave of FARA Enforcement

As the Foreign Agents Registration Act continues to receive national attention, an article in this quarter’s PLI Current journal describes the Justice Department’s increased focus on the statute.  The article, authored by Covington’s Rob Kelner, Zack Parks, and Alex Langton, discusses the shifting FARA enforcement landscape, analyzes how the statute works, and addresses pending FARA … Continue Reading

Survey of the Pay-to-Play Laws of the United States

Companies doing business with state and local governments or operating in regulated industries are subject to a dizzying array of “pay-to-play” rules.  These rules effectively prohibit company executives and employees (and in some cases, their family members) from making certain personal political contributions.  Even inadvertent violations can be dangerous:  a single political contribution can, for example, … Continue Reading

IRS Announces Major Change To Nonprofit Donor Disclosure Requirements

In a significant and unexpected development, the U.S. Treasury Department announced yesterday that certain nonprofits — including trade associations and 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations — would no longer be required to disclose the names and addresses of their donors on the annual “Form 990” they file with the Internal Revenue Service. Although the IRS already … Continue Reading

New Tactic Emerges in Fight to Compel Companies to Disclose So-Called “Dark Money” Contributions

A new corporate political disclosure trend is coming. For years, those advocating increased corporate political disclosure have looked for ways to force companies to publicly reveal the names and amounts of corporate contributions to so-called “dark money” 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofits and 501(c)(6) trade associations. To date, these initiatives have had, at best, limited success.  But this … Continue Reading

Plea Agreement Hints at Justice Department’s Expanded Reading of the Foreign Agents Registration Act

In recent months, we have highlighted trends of increased enforcement and increasingly aggressive interpretation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act by the Department of Justice.  These trends are evidenced in the Justice Department’s announcement last week that the President of the Pakistan American League, Nasir Adhem Chaudhry of Maryland, had agreed to plead guilty for … Continue Reading

Federal Court Decision Puts Brakes on Issue Ads

As the 2018 mid-term season approaches, viewers may be seeing fewer issue advertisements paid for by so-called “dark money” groups.  In a consequential decision, a federal court in Washington, D.C. concluded yesterday that all “electioneering communications” presumptively count as political spending for purposes of determining whether a group should register as a political action committee … Continue Reading

Revisions to the Department of Defense “Revolving Door” Rules

Buried in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an obscure, and quite significant, change to the post-employment restriction on U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) civilian and uniformed personnel. This new provision could have a substantial impact on defense contractors and others who recruit DoD personnel to work on policy and procurement matters before … Continue Reading

House Tax Bill Opens Door to Expanded Political Activity By Charities

UPDATE:  The provision in the House bill, discussed below, was not included in the final Conference Agreement that became law.  There is one very important political law provision to watch as the tax bill moves to a final vote in the Senate, and potentially a conference committee reconciles the House and Senate versions.  This amendment will … Continue Reading

Is Corporate Political Disclosure Leveling Off? Crunching the latest CPA-Zicklin Numbers

For years, the Center for Political Accountability’s annual CPA-Zicklin Index of corporate political practices has touted marked year-over-year increases in corporate political disclosure practices.  Look at the subtitles for its recent reports: How Leading Companies are Strengthening Their Political Spending Practices (2013), How Leading Companies are Making Political Disclosure a Mainstream Practice (2014 and 2015), … Continue Reading

The Top Three Political Law Risks for Hedge Funds, Private Equity Funds, and Investment Firms

Perhaps no industry faces more scrutiny and regulation of its political activities than the financial services industry.   Even though these rules are often not intuitive, failure to comply with them can result in big penalties, loss of business, and debilitating reputational consequences.  In this advisory, we describe three sometimes overlooked political law related risks for hedge funds, … Continue Reading

SEC Pay-to-Play Rule Set to Expand to Capital Acquisition Brokers

The universe of those covered by the SEC’s pay-to-play restrictions is expanding. If a newly proposed SEC rule is adopted as expected, pay-to-play restrictions will now extend to cover the recently created class of broker-dealers called Capital Acquisition Brokers (“CABs”).  In this advisory, we discuss the background on the proposed rule and its implications for … Continue Reading

Corporate Political Disclosure Fight Shifts to Mutual Funds

Corporate political disclosure activists this week launched a new tactic in their fight to pressure companies to publicly disclose information about their political and lobbying activities. For more than a decade, public pension funds and others have aggressively pushed shareholder resolutions that call on public companies to self-disclose information about contributions to trade associations and … 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

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

New Report Calls Out Corporate Political Disclosure “Basement Dwellers”

A report published today criticizes companies that refuse to disclose information about their political spending on their websites.  The non-profit Center for Political Accountability and the Zicklin School at Wharton annually rank all companies in the S&P 500 on their political disclosure practices, based on a 70-point metric.  The more information companies disclose on their … Continue Reading

Have We Reached A FARA “Tipping Point”?

The New York Times, earlier this month, reported that “secret ledgers” in Ukraine show $12.7 million in cash payments designated for former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from Ukraine’s pro-Russian political party. Days later, the Associated Press reported that Manafort helped the pro-Russian party “secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying … Continue Reading

The Supreme Court Redraws the Lines for Corruption Prosecutions

The Ferrari carrying former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell appears to have made a U-turn this week on its way to the federal penitentiary.  Covington released today a Client Alert on the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonnell v. United States, a decision which vacated Governor McDonnell’s conviction and redraws the lines for corruption prosecutions.   The Court held a public … Continue Reading

New Overtime Rules May Spell Trouble For Some Corporate PACs

The Obama Administration’s publication yesterday of a regulation increasing the universe of employees entitled to overtime pay might reduce the number of employees from whom corporate PACs can seek contributions. The new regulations, which take effect on December 1, 2016, increase the salary level below which certain employees are entitled to overtime pay.  Currently, salaried … Continue Reading
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