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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.


University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Coro Fellow, Los Angeles

Yale University, cum laude

Jan Baran is the founder and co-chair of Wiley Rein LLP’s Election Law and Government Ethics Practice. For over forty years, Jan has specialized in the laws that regulate political activity and lobbying including the Federal Election Campaign Act, the Lobbying Disclosure Act, the Ethics in Government Act, as well as related federal, state and local laws. He represents clients before federal and state courts, the Federal Election Commission (FEC), congressional ethics committees and similar state agencies. He has appeared in numerous cases at the Supreme Court of the United States and has presented oral arguments before the Court.

Chambers USA consistently recognizes Jan among the nation’s top tier of distinguished practitioners in the field. He is described by his peers as “the dean of political law” (2016). Jan is the author of The Election Law Primer for Corporations now in its Sixth Edition published by the American Bar Association. He has written numerous legal articles and opinion pieces published in law journals and other publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today. Jan is also co-chair of the annual Practising Law Institute program, Corporate Political Activities.

Jan has served as an Executive Assistant to the Chair of the FEC, as a member of The President’s Commission on Federal Ethics Law Reform, U.S Ambassador to the World Administrative Radio Conference, General Counsel of the Republican National Committee, Special Counsel to the Virginia Attorney General for an election recount, and as a member of the Virginia Governor’s Commission on Government Finance Reform. He also has been a member of international observer delegations to national elections in foreign countries including The Philippines, Nicaragua, Hungary, and Pakistan.

Jan 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 leads Skadden’s Political Law practice and 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, he 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.

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 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. He also 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 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) as well as swap dealers (CFTC Rule 23.451).

Mr. Gross is widely known as a speaker on ethics in government and election law. A featured guest on CNN, Fox News, NPR Radio and other media outlets, he was CNN’s on-air election law analyst during the 2000 Florida election dispute. He co-chairs the Practising Law Institute’s annual seminar on “Corporate Political Activities.”

As an active participant in various nonprofit organizations, Mr. Gross serves on the board of trustees of the Campaign Finance Institute and is a member of the executive committee and counsel to the American Council of Young Political Leaders. He also is a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Lawyers Committee and a board member of the Public Affairs Council.