Berke | Farah LLP

Navigating the Law of Politics (and more)

Politics has become a regulated industry. At Berke Farah LLP, we provide legal advice and counsel to help clients navigate all aspects of the political process – including campaign finance & election law, government ethics, lobbying law, corporate anti-corruption compliance, government investigations, non-profits, and fundraising. Beyond politics, we also represent clients on white collar criminal defense, regulatory, corporate governance, intellectual property, and entertainment law. Our clients include Fortune 500 companies, national trade associations, lobbying and public relations firms, political committees and campaigns, elected and appointed government officials, artists, musicians, and writers.

Campaign Finance & Election Law

A labyrinth of laws and regulations govern the financing of U.S. elections, including complex prohibitions and restrictions on who may give, how much may be given, detailed filing and disclosure requirements, and other conditions.  While the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United presents opportunities for businesses and other organizations seeking to participate more directly in electoral politics, it also poses a number of legal compliance and political issues warranting careful attention.  And while Citizens United deregulates campaign activity to some extent, there has been a seeming explosion in state, county and municipal “pay-to-play” laws in recent years.  These laws, which regulate political activity by companies doing business with governmental entities, along with federal rules adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for those persons subject to their regulation, carry serious penalties for non-compliance and impose an additional regulatory dimension requiring careful legal analysis and planning for clients who are contemplating political activity.

Our clients include federal and state political party committees, candidates and campaign committees, political action committees (PACs), leadership PACs, Super PACs and other nonprofits engaging in political activity.  These are in addition to the numerous corporations and trade associations we advise on a regular basis.  Our work includes representations before the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Department of Justice (DOJ), as well as state, county and local election authorities. In addition, we advise clients on ballot access and other election law issues and help clients prepare and file their campaign reports.

Government Ethics & Presidential Nomination Confirmations

Our attorneys have significant experience in federal and state ethics-related rules, laws and regulations, including the Ethics in Government Act (EGA), the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), and the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA).  We regularly advise executive and legislative branch officials, candidates and campaign committees, political action committees, corporations, small businesses, nonprofits and others.  We represent clients before the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate ethics committees, the Office of Congressional Ethics, the DOJ and state ethics commissions. We also help clients navigate recusal and conflict of interest issues, as well as personal financial disclosure reports and confirmable executive branch nominations and appointments.  We have also represented clients thru the presidential nomination and confirmation process at the cabinet and subcabinet level over multiple presidential administrations.

Lobbying Law Compliance

In 2007, the passage of HLOGA marked a sea change in the legal landscape for lobbyists and the businesses that employ them.  HLOGA not only expanded these businesses’ lobbying disclosure requirements, it substantially increased civil and criminal penalties for failing to comply.  For the first time, House and Senate gift and travel rules applied outside of Congress.

We represent top government relations firms, corporations and trade associations on legal issues relating to lobbying.  We also help clients comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a statute that also carries with it serious criminal penalties for non-compliance.  In addition to federal law, virtually every state and an increasing number of counties and municipalities have adopted state/local lobbying laws.  Some of these laws, in addition to requiring registration and periodic reporting by lobbyists and their clients/employers, impose additional legal restrictions on political contributions and gifts by such persons.  Companies and trade associations with multi-jurisdictional government affairs programs therefore must be aware of when their activity triggers a state/local lobbying law and develop a mechanism to quickly adapt to any applicable requirements or restrictions.  Because our lawyers routinely advise clients in these matters, we are well positioned to help clients and provide them with timely, cost-effective advice in this constantly changing area of the law.

Corporate Anti-Corruption Compliance & Governance

It was once said that "all politics is local."  Today, politics has gone global.  As U.S. companies continue to expand their sales and business globally, compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the U.K. Bribery Act, other anti-corruption measures become an increasing concern.  The fines and other penalties for violating these laws are severe and can lead to costly litigation.  We advise clients on designing corporate anti-corruption programs, reviewing corporate policies, conducting training sessions and preparing training materials, and defending them against allegations of violations of law.  We also conduct internal investigations when clients suspect a violation may have occurred and audit client compliance programs for effectiveness.

We also represent clients on general corporate governance, including for start-up businesses.  Our extensive background provides an array of benefits to our clients.  We regularly develop and implement formal internal compliance procedures to prevent client issues from arising. We offer employee-training sessions tailored to the specific needs of each client and to reduce the risk of legal liability.  These programs not only ensure a knowledgeable workforce, but also help businesses demonstrate their commitment to compliance.

Government Investigations, Congressional Oversight, Internal Investigations & White Collar Criminal Defense

Our lawyers help clients respond to a wide range of government and internal investigations.  Our representations include investigations by Congressional Committees, the DOJ, offices of Inspectors General, state Attorneys General, and other investigative departments and agencies.  Our clients have ranged from Members of Congress and staff, senior federal and state officials, Fortune 500 companies, major law firms, and private individuals.

Even in the absence of an actual investigation, we advise clients regarding ethics and legal issues affecting members of Congress, congressional employees, federal and state officials, lobbyists, and other businesses that interact with government at the federal, state and local level.

Non-Profit Exemption Application, Corporate Governance & Compliance

We represent non-profits, including charities, social welfare organizations, and trade associations, on all aspects of corporate governance.  We counsel clients from initial application for tax-exempt status through organization and ongoing operations and compliance.  Although a good portion of our practice is political law, our counsel is by no means limited to politically active non-profits.  We also represent public charities and private foundations, as well as more traditional social welfare organizations.  We have provided counsel on major charitable fundraising events featuring such entertainers such as Robert Duvall, Jeff Bridges, Trace Adkins, Kid Rock, Journey, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Camp Freddy, and Roger Daltrey.

Regulatory & Administrative Law

We represent clients on all aspects of regulatory and administrative law needs, from the filing of public comments on proposed rulemaking to working through regulatory or administrative burdens to conducting business.  Our lawyers have worked at the Departments of State and Housing and Urban Development and also have extensive experience in executive branch oversight, including the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.

Strategic Counsel & Crisis Management

In a political environment driven by 24-hour news and exacting public scrutiny, the ability to respond quickly to allegations is imperative.  Because of our individual and collective expertise in some of the most high-profile events of the last three decades, we are able to represent clients in an effective and timely manner. Given the attention of media outlets and their investigative units, business entities and government officials need representation that recognizes and responds to a broad spectrum of immediate and strategic legal, ethical and media requirements.  Our team has played a key role helping clients address some of the most-high profile political developments of the last decade.

Investigations often involve parallel proceedings.  Clients may be subjected to their own internal audits, regulatory or administrative scrutiny, congressional hearings, state attorney general probes, grand jury investigations, and an onslaught of questions from the media — often simultaneously. Our clients seek strategic counsel to manage crises, and they require reliable public messaging and analysis that can be disseminated quickly and clearly.

Intellectual Property & Entertainment Law

We provide legal guidance in all stages of intellectual property creation and development, from early stage project development through completion and distribution. We ensure that our clients' creations are fully protected to ensure that maximum value is realized, with focus on the following industries:

  • Motion Picture/Television - We represent writers, actors, directors, producers and production companies in all areas of motion picture and television acquisition, development, production and protection.

  • Visual and Literary Arts - Our clients include painters, photographers, sculptors, dancers and writers in such matters as gallery agreements, commissioning agreements and copyright registration and licensing.

  • Publishing - We represent best-selling authors and internationally acclaimed artists in traditional print publishing and electronic publishing.

  • Advertising - We have experience representing individual talent and companies involved in sports, performance and commercial advertising and celebrity endorsement deals, including copyright and trademark protection and licensing.

  • Design- We represent product designers, software designers and architects in all areas of copyright protection and licensing.

  • Music - We represent individual musicians, bands and record labels in all areas of music production and copyright protection and licensing

  • Events - We provide legal representation and help produce high profile media events, such as at the presidential party conventions and inaugurations.  Past work includes charity events featuring Robert Duvall, Maya Angelou, Jeff Bridges, Trace Adkins, Kid Rock, Journey, Lynyrd Skynyrd, LA super group Camp Freddy, The Who's Roger Daltrey, and ZZ Top's Billy F Gibbons.  Our lawyers also played instrumental roles in the dedication of busts of Winston Churchill in the U.S. Capitol in 2013, and of Vaclav Havel in the U.S. Capitol in the U.S. Capitol in 2014 (the latter event being chaired by Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush).