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Corporate Political Law Compliance 2019

Speaker(s): Caleb P. Burns, Christina J. Hymer, Deborah S. Mayer, Elli Abdoli, Jason D. Kaune, Joanne Lendway McMahon, John C. Sassaman, Kenneth A. Gross, Ki P. Hong, McGregor W. Scott, Michael J. Sullivan, Richard C. Miadich, Wesley D. Bizzell
Recorded on: Oct. 3, 2019
PLI Program #: 279191

Caleb P. Burns focuses on advising participants in the political process on compliance with all aspects of political law, including campaign finance, government ethics, and lobbying. His clients include federal officeholders, political candidates and committees, non-profit and tax exempt 501(c) advocacy organizations, trade associations, Fortune 50 corporations, other business organizations, and private individuals. He has particular experience with the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA), as well as analogous state and local laws regulating campaign finance, government ethics, and lobbying. Caleb frequently represents clients subject to these laws in matters before the Federal Election Commission (FEC), other federal and state administrative agencies, and in federal and state courts.

Rated among the nation’s leading lawyers by Chambers USA, he is recognized as “a real expert in the political law arena” (2013). He is described as “a meticulous and thorough practitioner who has an excellent reputation in the market” (2015) and “always very prompt” (2014). Clients value his “very practical advice” (2014). Caleb has appeared as a nationally broadcast commentator on Fox News and National Public Radio, and is regularly cited and quoted on political law topics in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox News, Time, Politico, The Huffington Post, Salon, Roll Call, The Hill, Law360, The Washington Times, Washington Business Journal, and Washington Examiner.

Practice Areas

  • Election Law & Government Ethics
  • Foreign Agents Registration Act
  • Litigation


  • J.D., New York University School of Law
  • B.A., cum laude, Duke University

Bar and Court Admissions

  • District of Columbia Bar
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Christina Hymer serves as Senior Counsel, Law Function in Corporate Compliance, a position she has held since June 2018. In this role, Christina provides advice and counsel on compliance with U.S. political laws related to political contributions, lobbying and gifts to public officials.

Prior to joining Chevron, Christina served in positions as Deputy Assistant General Counsel for Standards of Conduct and Attorney-Advisor at the United States Department of Energy. In addition, she was on special assignment as Ethics Counsel in the Office of the White House Counsel. Prior to Christina’s federal government service, she completed two judicial clerkships with the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division I, and Arizona Superior Court, Maricopa County.

Christina graduated from American University, with a Bachelor of Science in International Studies, and where she was a four-year starter in goal for the lacrosse team. Christina also graduated from American University, Washington College of Law with a Juris Doctorate.

Elli Abdoli is a partner with the firm’s political law section. She advises Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, trade associations and other organizations on complying with federal, state and local lobby, campaign finance and ethics laws, including developing and implementing comprehensive nationwide compliance systems.

Ms. Abdoli specializes in “pay-to-play” laws, including SEC Rule 206(4)-5, MSRB Rule G-37, and state and local laws impacting the political activity of current and prospective government contractors. She has developed compliance processes and policies to assist companies in complying with these complex laws and regulations, including a mobile application to assist executives and employees with their reporting obligations.

Ms. Abdoli also advises corporations, nonprofit organizations, committees, and individuals on federal, state and local campaign finance and election law issues, including the initiative and referendum process. She is counsel and treasurer for a number of political action committees and ballot measure committees.

In 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, Ms. Abdoli was selected for inclusion in Northern California Super Lawyers – Rising Stars, which recognizes no more than the top 2.5 percent of lawyers. The Rising Star category recognizes attorneys who are age 40 or less, or in the practice of law 10 years or less.

Jason Kaune leads Nielsen Merksamer’s political law section and has served as faculty for the Corporate Political Activities conference since 2003. He specializes in government ethics, election, lobbying disclosure, conflict of interest, gift and gratuity, and campaign finance laws of federal, state and local governments.

Mr. Kaune advises corporations, advocacy groups, individuals, non-profit organizations and governments on the increasingly complex regulation of the political intersection of the public and private sectors in the United States. For nearly twenty years, he has pioneered the firm’s national compliance practice, building client-oriented resources and systems with his political law colleagues that have served as benchmarks in the regulated community. His clients include the nation’s largest technology, pharmaceutical, energy, telecommunications, media, publishing, investment and consumer product companies.

He is one of the leading political attorneys in California, advising individuals, entities and government agencies on election law and conflict of interest matters. He serves as counsel and treasurer for political action committees, advocacy groups, social welfare organizations, independent expenditure committees and ballot measures on topics ranging from land use restrictions to government reform.

Mr. Kaune represents and advises clients in regard to their dealings with state and local government ethics agencies across the country, with local counsel as necessary. His expertise includes “pay to play” restrictions on government contractors and the financial industry, the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), California’s Political Reform Act (PRA), and similar laws at every level of government.

He’s currently an appointed member of the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Election Law.  He is a past president of the California Political Attorneys Association and member of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) and other professional associations. He also serves as an elected trustee of the Orinda Unified School District, a public school district in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining Nielsen Merksamer, Mr. Kaune worked in the private and non-profit sectors, on a presidential campaign, and for a U.S. Federal District Court Judge.  He is an honors graduate of Yale College and the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law and earned a master in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Michael J. Sullivan is currently serving his fifth term as Director of the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF).  Appointed unanimously by a bi-partisan commission to his first term in 1994, he is the only Director to be reappointed in the over 40 year history of the office.  Prior to his appointment at OCPF, Mike served as the City Clerk in Newburyport, MA.

He served two stints (2008, 2016) as President of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) and served on its Steering Committee for seven years.  COGEL is the national organization of government administrators in the campaign finance, ethics, public information and lobbying arenas.

An alumnus of Tufts University, Mike is also a member of the Association of New England Football Officials and the North Shore Baseball Umpires Association.  A native of Lynn, MA, he resides in Newburyport, MA.

Wesley Bizzell serves as Senior Assistant General Counsel and Managing Director of Political Law & Ethics Programs for Altria Client Services.    Overseeing a comprehensive compliance system covering the regulation of government affairs, Mr. Bizzell provides advice and guidance on political law compliance for more than 75 jurisdictions.  Mr. Bizzell also heads the legal team that supports Altria’s public policy activities, providing services related to legislative and regulatory drafting and interpretation. 

Mr. Bizzell is an authority on political law compliance, serving as co-chair of the Conference Board’s Committee on Corporate Political Spending, a committee of leading American corporations dedicated to education and engagement on issues of corporate political activity.  For four years, he served as co-chair of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws’ (“COGEL”) annual conference.  In 2018, COGEL awarded Mr. Bizzell its highest honor, the COGEL Award, for making a “demonstrable and positive contribution to the fields of campaign finance, ethics, elections, lobbying and freedom of information over a significant period of time.”

Previously, Mr. Bizzell was an attorney in Winston & Strawn LLP’s Federal Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs Practice Group.  His career also includes more than six years on Capitol Hill, where he served as an aide to Arkansas Senators David Pryor and Dale Bumpers. 

Mr. Bizzell is extremely active in promoting diversity and inclusion within the legal and corporate communities.  He is a founding member and serves on the steering committee for Altria’s LGBT Employee Resource Group and is president of the National LGBT Bar Association.  He has been named by London’s Financial Times (2017 and 2018) and Yahoo Finance (2019) as one of the 100 worldwide OUTstanding Leading LGBT+ Corporate Executives, and Chambers and Partners also named him the 2019 LGBT+ Equality Lawyer of the Year for his dedication and commitment to LGBT diversity programs and his efforts to advance LGBT+ professionals in the law. 

Mr. Bizzell graduated with a B.A. in Justice, magna cum laude, from the American University in Washington, D.C. and received a Master of Social Work with a focus in public policy from the Catholic University of America.  He received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as an editor for the Georgetown Law Journal. 

Chair Miadich was appointed by Governor Newsom to the Fair Political Practices Commission effective May 1, 2019. The Commission is responsible for regulating statewide campaign finance, governmental ethics, and lobbying activity.

Prior to his appointment to Chair, Miadich was the managing partner with Olson, Hagel & Fishburn LLP. His practice focused on litigation matters involving election and campaign finance law, education law, government and administrative law, and constitutional law. He also assisted in the firm’s political advising, primarily in areas of elections and initiatives.

Chair Miadich is a member of the California State Bar, and has litigated matters at the trial and appellate levels in California, including the California Supreme Court, and has represented clients before state administrative agencies. He has also participated in matters before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Seventh and Ninth Circuits, and the United States District Courts for the Northern and Eastern Districts of California. Representing appellant pro bono, Miadich successfully briefed and argued Lee v. Keith (7th. Cir. 2006) 463 F. 3d 763, which resulted in several Illinois ballot access laws being declared unconstitutional.

Chair Miadich was an At-Large Director of the Sacramento County Bar Association Board of Directors. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Sacramento County Bar Foundation, a 501 © (3) nonprofit organization that serves as the charitable arm of the Sacramento County Bar Association. Previously, Miadich also served on the Executive Committee of the Public Law Section of the California State Bar and was the assistant editor of the State Bar’s Public Law Journal. His article “When to Run, Walk or Crawl to the Courthouse: Proper Timing of Legal Challenges to Initiative Measures” (co-authored with William B. Tunick), was published in the Spring 2007 Public Law Journal.

Chair Miadich earned his law degree from the University of California at Davis in 2002. While there, he served as a member of the U.C. Davis Law Review, externed with the California State Assembly Judiciary Committee, and participated in the school’s trial practice program. He received his Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and History from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1998.

His professional memberships include: The American Bar Association, the Sacramento County Bar Association and the California Political Attorney’s Association.

John Sassaman is Chief Counsel, Ethics and Compliance, Government Operations, for The Boeing Company. Sassaman is responsible for enterprise legal support on a range of federal and state regulatory and policy issues, including those involving Boeing’s ethics program, campaign finance and lobbying laws, hiring of former government officials, engagements with federal and state officials, business courtesies and hospitalities, and conflict of interest.

Before joining the Law Department, Sassaman was director of Ethics and Business Conduct for Government Operations and Boeing International for Boeing. He was responsible for leading a global team ensuring effective deployment of ethics controls and initiatives to promote a compliant and ethical work culture that enabled strong business performance. He reported to the vice president of Ethics and served on the Government Operations and Boeing International leadership teams.

Sassaman joined Boeing in November 2014 after more than 13 years on Capitol Hill, where he was chief counsel and staff director for the United State Senate’s Select Committee on Ethics, which is authorized to administer the Senate’s self-discipline authority under Article 1, section 5 of the United States Constitution. In that role, he implemented and managed the committee’s investigation practices, policies and procedures as well as its training tools on a nonpartisan basis. Before joining the Senate Ethics Committee, Sassaman served as senior counsel for the United States House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, functioning as the committee’s leader on ethics advice and training. He also served as Special Counsel in the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.

Sassaman holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Haverford College, a Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, from Albany Law School of Union University, and is recognized as a certified compliance and ethics professional by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics.  

Kenneth A. Gross advises clients on matters relating to the regulation of political activity. A nationally renowned authority on campaign law compliance, gift and gratuity rules, lobby registration provisions, and securities laws regulating political activity and municipal securities transactions, Mr. Gross counsels numerous Fortune 500 corporations and political candidates at the state and federal level. As former associate general counsel of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Mr. Gross headed the general counsel’s Enforcement Division and supervised the legal staff charged with the review of the FEC’s Audit Division.

Presently, his clients include commercial and investment banks, insurance companies, energy companies, pharmaceuticals, accounting firms, real estate firms, media companies and trade associations. He advises elected officials as well as candidates facing various federal and state races. Mr. Gross also counsels senior-level political appointees facing Senate confirmation in matters related to compliance with government ethics laws.

Mr. Gross is well-known for his experience regarding the Ethics in Government Act, the Lobbying Disclosure Act, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, and the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate ethics rules. He also has worked extensively with federal and state lobby registration laws, in particular compliance with the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act and the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Additionally, he advises corporations on internal ethics guidelines and conducts internal investigations. Mr. Gross advises many corporations on their responses to shareholder proposals regarding disclosure of political and lobbying expenditures.

Beginning with the underwriting scandals on political contributions in the late 1980s and 1990s that led to MSRB Rules G-37/G-38 regulating the activities of broker-dealers, Mr. Gross has been at the forefront in advising clients on compliance with pay-to-play rules. Such rules have broadened over the years to restrict activity by investment advisers (SEC Rule 206(4)-5) and swap dealers (CFTC Rule 23.451).

Mr. Gross repeatedly has been selected for inclusion in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business and The Best Lawyers in America. Washingtonian Magazine repeatedly has recognized him as a top lawyer in the field of ethics and election law. In addition, he was recognized as a leading Washington, D.C. attorney by Washington Post Magazine and was named Best Lawyers’ 2017 Washington, D.C. Government Relations Practice Lawyer of the Year. Roll Call named Mr. Gross among the outstanding lawyers when it last identified “Who’s Who Among the Congressional Ethics Bar.” He has been listed in multiple editions of Who’s Who in America. Mr. Gross received a 2013 ILO Client Choice Award, awarded by the International Law Office in recognition of individual partners who excel across the full spectrum of client service. In addition, in 2006, Mr. Gross was the recipient of the Council on Governmental Ethics Law (COGEL) Award, the highest award given by COGEL in recognition of service to the ethics community.

Mr. Gross is widely known as a speaker on ethics in government and election law. A frequent featured guest on CNN, Fox News, NPR Radio and other media outlets, Mr. Gross was CNN’s on-air election law analyst during the 2000 Florida election dispute and made daily appearances in covering the election. He advised NBC’s television show “The West Wing” on election law issues that arose in the show’s scripts.

In addition, he is the co-author of the Ethics Handbook for Enter­taining and Lobbying Public Officials. His published articles on campaign finance have appeared in the Stanford Law and Policy Review and the Yale Law & Policy Review (“The Enforcement of Campaign Finance Rules: A System in Search of Reform”); Federal Bar Journal; Corporate Political Activities (published by Business Laws, Inc.); Money, Elections and Democracy; and several other publications. He also is the author of supplements to a treatise titled “Federal Regulation of Campaign Finance and Political Activity.” He served as a commentator for the “Under the Influence” Experts Forum published by The National Journal. Mr. Gross has co-authored summaries of the STOCK Act for the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation.

Mr. Gross co-chairs the Practising Law Institute’s annual seminar on “Corporate Political Activities.” He is an adviser to the American Law Institute’s Members Consultative Group on the Principles of Government Ethics. He chaired the Election Law Committee for the Federal Bar Association. Mr. Gross also served as an appointee of former Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D-NY) on the New York Judicial Screening Committee, where he participated in the recommendation of New York federal judges and U.S. attorneys.

An active participant in various nonprofit organizations, Mr. Gross is a member of the executive committee and counsel to the Ameri­can Council of Young Political Leaders. Mr. Gross is a co-founder of No Labels, a nonprofit focused on developing bipartisan approaches toward solving our nation’s problems. He also is a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Lawyers Committee and a board member of the Public Affairs Council.

Mr. Gross has served on the faculty of George Washington Univer­sity and also at New York University. He often lectures at George­town University Law Center, Fordham University School of Law and American University.

Ki P. Hong is the head of Skadden’s Political Law Group. He advises major corporations on the unique political law issues they face when engaging in government affairs or government procurement activity. These include federal and state campaign finance, lobbying, gift, ethics and conflict-of-interest laws.

Mr. Hong also advises clients on pay-to-play laws that impose special restrictions on the political activity of companies that have or seek government contracts, as well as their covered employees. He advises clients on establishing and maintaining comprehensive systems to ensure compliance with those laws. In addition, he represents clients at the enforcement stage.

Mr. Hong’s clients include companies from a wide range of different industries. He represents three of the "Big Four" accounting firms and leaders in other industries, such as technology, energy, media, insurance and communications. He also represents nine of the top 10 U.S. banks and nearly all of Wall Street.

Mr. Hong is well-regarded for his experience with state and federal pay-to-play laws. Such laws include MSRB Rules G-37/G-38, including amendments to Rule G-37 that apply to municipal advisors. He also advises clients on implementing Dodd-Frank’s definition and regulation of municipal advisors. He has extensive experience in SEC Rule 206(4)-5 for investment advisors and drafted model policies and procedures to address this Rule that have become the industry standard. Mr. Hong also advises clients on the pay-to-play provisions within CFTC Rule 23.451 covering swap dealers.

He also has extensive experience advising clients on election, lobbying and government ethics laws. Mr. Hong routinely represents clients before federal enforcement agencies such as the Federal Election Commission, and he works with the House and Senate Ethics Committees, the Office of Congressional Ethics and the Office of Government Ethics. He also works frequently with various state ethics commissions around the country. He advises clients on state laws that require government contractors and investment advisers to register as lobbyists.

Mr. Hong regularly counsels major corporations on inquiries and proxy proposals issued by shareholder groups regarding transparency in corporate political spending and lobbying activities.

Mr. Hong served on the steering committee of the Council on Government Ethics Laws (COGEL), an association of the federal and state government agencies that implement and enforce campaign finance and ethics laws throughout the United States and Canada. Mr. Hong is the first attorney in private practice to be elected to the steering committee in COGEL’s history.

Mr. Hong co-authored the Ethics Handbook for Entertaining and Lobbying Public Officials, which was first published in 1994 and continues to be updated for subscribers. He co-authored several chapters of the Practicing Law Institute’s publication “Corporate Political Activities” for every edition of the publication since 1993. He also co-authors the Institute’s “Corporate Political Activities Deskbook.”

He is a regular speaker at conferences, such as those organized by the Practising Law Institute, the Investment Adviser Association and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. He also is a main speaker at an all-day seminar that he organizes every year, having completed the 24th annual seminar with more than 220 attendees in May 2019. Mr. Hong is ranked in Band 1 for political law in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business and has been named in The Best Lawyers in America. Washingtonian Magazine also has repeatedly recognized him as a top lawyer in the field of ethics and election law.

McGregor “Greg” Scott was sworn in as United States Attorney on December 29, 2017, marking his return to the position he held from 2003 to 2009, when he was appointed United States Attorney by President George W. Bush.  Mr. Scott was nominated for this current term as United States Attorney by President Donald J. Trump, and confirmed by the United States Senate.  

 Mr. Scott received his B.A. from Santa Clara University in 1985 and his J.D. from Hastings College of the Law, University of California, in 1989.  He served as a deputy district attorney from 1989 to 1997 in Contra Costa County, California, and served as the elected District Attorney of Shasta County, California, from 1997 to 2003.  After completing his first term as U.S. Attorney, Mr. Scott practiced as a partner with the law firm of Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe, LLP, focusing on white collar criminal defense and corporate investigations.  In addition, Mr. Scott retired in 2008 from the United States Army Reserve as a lieutenant colonel after 23 years of service.

Ms. Mayer serves as the non-partisan chief legal advisor and professional staff leader, selected jointly by both sides of the only bipartisan committee in the Senate.  Ms. Mayer personally advises Members of the Committee and Senate, and oversees the non-partisan staff in providing ethics advice and education, administering the Senate’s financial disclosure program, and conducting investigations and enforcement of ethics rules, laws and standards of conduct.  Prior to her work in the Senate, from July 2011 through January 2015, Ms. Mayer served as the Director of Investigations for the House Ethics Committee, overseeing all of the Committee’s investigations into Members of Congress or their staff.

From November 2002 to July 2011, Ms. Mayer was a prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, beginning as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, where she spent most of her time in the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section investigating and prosecuting members and associates of La Cosa Nostra.  Her cases included prosecuting the boss of the Colombo Crime Family for murder in aid of racketeering and conducting one of the only trials on the country involving the smuggling of antiquities looted from the Iraq Museum.  In 2008, Ms. Mayer joined the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, where she investigated and prosecuted corruption at all levels of government throughout the United States.

Since 1998, Ms. Mayer has served as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Navy, both on active duty and in the reserve.  Ms. Mayer has served in a variety of litigation and operational assignments including as a trial and appellate prosecutor and Staff Judge Advocate.  She holds the rank of Captain, and currently serves as a military judge.

In addition to her work as an attorney, Ms. Mayer has trained prosecutors at the Department of Justice’s National Advocacy Center, taught seminars to law enforcement agents at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Clinical Law at Brooklyn Law School.

Joanne Lendway McMahon is General Electric’s Governmental Compliance Leader.  Her work focuses on compliance with US federal, state and local laws regarding campaign finance, gifts, lobbying, and government procurement.  Joanne works closely with GE’s compliance, government relations, litigation and legal teams at GE Corporate and with all GE business entities.   She also works with GE’s IT group to develop technology solutions that address governmental compliance risks.  Joanne is a member of GE’s COVID-19 Task Force, assisting with the company’s response to rapidly changing executive orders and laws impacting business operations.

Joanne has been a lawyer since 1989, starting her legal career in private practice in Chicago representing national insurers and international reinsurers in complex coverage disputes over asbestos, pollution and lead paint claims.  Joanne joined GE in 2002, working for GE Reinsurance on latent injury claims and public policy initiatives.   In 2009, Joanne became GE’s Governmental Compliance Leader.

Joanne has authored numerous articles and is a frequent speaker on compliance issues.  She received her undergraduate degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and her law degree from DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, Illinois.  Joanne resides in the Chicago area.