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Basics of the Federal Election Campaign Act 2015


Speaker(s): Chip Nielsen, Jan Witold Baran, Kenneth A. Gross
Recorded on: Aug. 5, 2015
PLI Program #: 144987

Chip Nielsen is the senior political law partner in campaign finance, pay-to-play, initiative, lobbying, conflict of interest and non-profit laws and a member of the firm's Management Committee. He also plays a very important role as one of the firm's top government law strategists.

He has been on the Faculty for 38 years and a Co-Chair for 35 years of this PLI seminar.

His Chambers USA ranking is top tier in political law nationwide

Professional Experience

Mr. Nielsen has been actively involved in California state politics and government for over four and one half decades, having been a campaign manager and a political law advisor to numerous politicians and government leaders as well as having served in senior government positions himself, such as Chief Administrative Officer for the California Assembly, Assistant Deputy State Controller and Chief of Staff to the Lieutenant Governor.

Publications and Boards

He is widely published in the area of political law and has been or is a member of the Board of Directors of the California Journal, the Bay Area Council, the North Bay Leadership Council, the American Bar Association Committee on Election Law, the University of California at Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies National Advisory Board, the American Association of Political Consultants, and the Citizens Research Foundation.  He was on the President’s Panel on Federal Judges, Central District of California, in the 2000s.

Education

University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Coro Fellow, Los Angeles

Yale University, cum laude


Jan Baran is a Partner at Holtzman Vogel. Baran has decades of experience as one of the nation’s preeminent election law attorneys. He advises clients on all aspects of election and political law including federal, state and local campaign finance laws, government ethics requirements, and lobbying laws.

Mr. Baran began his career as counsel and Assistant to the Chair of the Federal Election Commission, He went on to serve as General Counsel of the George H.W. Bush campaign for president and General Counsel of the Republican National Committee. Later, he served as a member of The President’s Commission on Federal Ethics Law Reform, Special Recount Counsel to the Virginia Attorney General, and member of the Virginia Governor’s Commission on Government Finance Reform. He has been a member of international observer delegations to numerous elections around the world, including in the Philippines, Nicaragua, Hungary and Pakistan.

Baran is an experienced litigator who has argued numerous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals.

He appears frequently as a legal commentator on television, radio, cable and in the print press. His articles have been published in law journals as well as in the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today. Baran served as a legal analyst for ABC News during the 2000 Florida recount.

Mr. Baran is the author of the book, “The Election Law Primer for Corporations,” published by the American Bar Association, and now in its sixth edition. He co-chairs the Practising Law Institute’s annual Corporate Political Activities conference. Baran has received the top national ranking from Chambers USA every year since the original publication. Chambers has described Baran as “the dean of campaign finance.”

Baran received his Juris Doctor degree from Vanderbilt University Law School, where he was a Patrick Wilson Scholar, and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio Wesleyan University, where he currently serves as a Trustee on the Board of Trustees.


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.