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Covington Publishes Update on Recent FEC Enforcement Activity

After a surprisingly active 2017, the Federal Election Commission’s enforcement efforts have slowed noticeably in the early months of 2018. In February, former Commission Lee Goodman’s departure from the agency left the Commission with only four members. While the remaining Commissioners can still form a quorum, unanimity is required for all official agency action. Perhaps … Continue Reading

Recent Developments at the USPTO

Change is afoot at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  Since Director Andrei Iancu took office in February and declared “creating a new pro-innovation, pro-IP dialogue” a top priority, the agency has experienced a flurry of activity.  Beyond the significant shift in its rhetoric on intellectual property, the USPTO has moved to “increase predictability … Continue Reading

Colorado Campaign Finance Enforcement System Found Unconstitutional

In a case with interesting ramifications, a federal court this week struck down major parts of Colorado’s campaign finance enforcement system as unconstitutional.The system at issue, which was created through a ballot initiative, generally allowed any person who believed there had been a violation of the state’s campaign finance laws to file a written complaint … Continue Reading

Political Law Potpourri—The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018

While the din over a possible government shutdown dominated the headlines, political law played a supporting role in the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act (Pub. L. No. 115-141).  The content and omissions of the so-called “Omnibus” spending bill will be of interest to political actors in all sectors, but particularly those operating nonprofit entities engaged … Continue Reading

South Dakota Breach Notification Law Breaks New Ground

Last week, South Dakota became the 49th U.S. state to enact a data breach notification law with the passage of S.B. 62, which sets forth requirements for notifying state residents, the state attorney general, and major consumer reporting agencies in the event of a breach. The law, which will take effect on July 1, 2018, … Continue Reading

New Wave of Trade Lobbying Presents FARA Registration Concerns

Washington is awash with lobbyists seeking to address new steel and aluminum tariffs, and other potential tariffs, on behalf of both foreign and domestic clients.  Lobbying on trade issues in some circumstances may trigger Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”) obligations.  The connection between trade lobbying and FARA was the subject of close scrutiny several decades … Continue Reading

A Review of Pending FARA Reform Bills

In recent months, Congress’s efforts to reform dramatically the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”) have picked up steam. As we explained in our recent FARA guide, FARA is a complex and broadly worded criminal statute that requires any “agent of a foreign principal” to register with the Department of Justice and file detailed public reports … Continue Reading

SEC Adopts New Guidance on Public Company Cybersecurity Disclosures and Insider Trading

On February 21, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) approved a statement and interpretive guidance that provides the Commission’s views on a public company’s disclosure obligations concerning cybersecurity risks and incidents (the “2018 Commission Guidance”). This guidance reinforces and expands upon previous cybersecurity disclosure guidance issued by the Division of Corporation Finance … Continue Reading

Fight Against Sexual Misconduct Bringing Regulations, Protections for Lobbyists

 As sexual abuse, assault, harassment, and other misconduct have dominated national headlines, state capitols and lobbyists have not escaped scrutiny.  Amidst a spate of allegations and member resignations, some state legislatures and ethics commissions are taking action.  While a variety of measures are being considered, including tightening gift rules, it is apparent that lobbyists and … Continue Reading

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”): A Guide for the Perplexed

 Eighty years ago, Congress enacted the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”), requiring “foreign agents” to register with the Attorney General. As amended over the years, it applies broadly to anyone who acts on behalf of a “foreign principal” to, among other things, influence U.S. policy or public opinion. Until recently, it was a backwater of … Continue Reading

DFARS Cyber Rule – What Questions Should Contractors Ask Themselves in the New Year?

Since August 2015, defense contractors have been on notice that they were required to implement the security controls in National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) Special Publication (“SP”) 800-171 no later than December 31, 2017 on covered contractor information systems.  Although the focus has been on meeting this deadline, contractors should add to their … Continue Reading

Grassley Legislation Would (Re)Impose FARA Obligations on Private Sector Entities

With the Foreign Agents Registration Act in the news and public awareness of this formerly obscure statute at an all-time high, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced legislation last week to revise the statute significantly, including reversing a decision Congress made in 1995 to remove most private sector reporting from FARA and place it instead under the companion … Continue Reading

Developments in U.S. Iran Sanctions

Administration Also Revises Russia Sanctions, Terminates Most Sudan Sanctions On October 13, President Trump announced that he would no longer certify to Congress that the suspension of U.S. sanctions against Iran pursuant to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”) is “appropriate and proportionate” to the steps that Iran has taken to terminate its illicit … 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

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

New Executive Branch Ethics Rules on Gifts and Procedures for New Hires, Appointees, and the Presidential Transition

The start of 2017 brings two changes to the federal Office of Government Ethics (“OGE”) rules for executive branch officers and employees. First, important changes to the executive branch gift rules went into effect this week.  We detailed those changes in this alert. Second, OGE’s overhaul of the Executive Branch Ethics Program regulations (5 C.F.R. … 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

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

Federal Court in D.C. Rules Against FEC in Important Disclosure Case

In an important decision, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper today ordered the Federal Election Commission to reconsider its dismissal of a complaint filed by CREW against two tax-exempt advocacy organizations that have never registered with the FEC. CREW alleged that the two groups, American Action Network and Americans for Job Security, had as their “major … 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

China Releases Draft Implementing Regulations for Consumer Rights Protection Law

Against the backdrop of a long string of product safety scandals that have eroded public trust, and a desire to transition China’s economy from an export-driven model to a consumption-driven model, the Chinese government continues to enhance its legal framework for the protection of consumer rights. On August 5, China’s State Administration of Industry and … Continue Reading

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

Yesterday 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 time.  … Continue Reading
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