The Election Law Society at the College of William and Mary Law School awarded Liz Howard (J.D. ’09) with the ELS Alumnus of the Year Award. In addition to her regular outstanding practice advising candidates, committees, non-profits, and lobbyists on election law matters, Ms. Howard was also recognized for her tireless work last November serving on the recount team for the Mark Herring for Attorney General [of Virginia]. She was also recognized for her work as lead counsel of the victorious recount team for Lynwood Lewis, whose state Senate special election decided control of the Virginia State Senate.
Ms. Howard was honored on March 21st at the second annual D.C. Friends of ELS Reception.
Neil Reiff has written a new article for Campaigns and Elections magazine this morning, offering a preview of several campaign finance issues likely to come to the forefront in 2014. With 2014 midterms right around the corner, Mr. Reiff identifies five issues likely to make news in the new year:
Super PACs expanding their influence into state and local races
States raising contribution limits
The McCutcheon v. FEC Supreme Court case and its impacts on federal and state aggregate contribution limits
A continued push for more disclosure from 501(c)(4) groups, especially as it regards to political spending by such groups
Potential for a new push from Congress to reform campaign finance laws, especially Super PAC
Liz Howard was quoted in a recent article in the Daily Online Examiner regarding disclaimer rules for mobile ads. At issue is whether political ads that appear on mobile phones need to include disclaimer language indicating who paid for the ad and if it was authorized by a candidate. Such disclaimers are traditionally found in tv, print, and online advertisements. Ms. Howard told the Daily Online Examiner that if a disclaimer is not included in an ad, the Federal Elections Commission may fine the campaign up to $5,000, or the amount of money spent on the ad, whichever is greater.
However, in an Advisory Opinion Request to the FEC, SRYL client Revolution Messaging asked that mobile ads be exempt from disclaimer requirements due to ads’ small sizes on mobile phones. This would put them in a category similar to bumper stickers and lapel pins, rather than traditional paid media.
On March 14, 2013, Jeff Wice will moderate a panel on the possible effects of the decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The panel is presented jointly by the New York Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society and LatinoJustice PRLDEF. Mr. Wice will moderate a panel consisting of Leah Aden ,Assistant Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Juan Cartagena, President of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and Myrna Pérez, Senior Counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice.
At issue in Shelby County v. Holder – which has been argued before the Supreme Court, but not yet decided – was the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The panel will discuss how the case made its way to the Supreme Court, as well as the potential ramifications of the Supreme Court striking down the statute.
Joe Sandler will speak today on campaign finance reform at a roundtable symposium at The University of Massachusetts School of Law. The subject of the symposium is “Politics and the Law” and will feature a keynote address from US Congressman Bill Keating (D-MA). In addition to Mr. Sandler’s discussion of campaign finance reform, other speakers will discuss additional topics including political corruption and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
The symposium is open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis
SRYL Partners Joe Sandler was quoted in a story by The Guardian in the United Kingdom about the rise in importance of lawyers on Election Day. He explains that after the debacle of the Florida recount in the 2000 Presidential elections, a network of attorneys has grown into a “veritable army.” The article explains that in 2004, both campaigns had paid attorneys and volunteers in place in swing states ahead of election day, a model which only expanded in 2008 and 2012.
What will all of these attorneys? Explained Mr. Sandler, “Thousands and thousands of lawyers will be out on election day ferreting out any problems with voting rights.” And should any swing state be too close to call, both campaigns will be ready to litigate.
SRYL attorney Joshua Rosenstein was quoted on the importance of effective political law compliance programs by law firms in an article on Law360 [subscription required]. The article discusses various strategies that law firms should adopt as politics takes center stage this election season. Mr. Rosenstein explains that while many larger firms take bipartisan approaches to politics and elections, many firms like SRYL that specialize in election law or represent clients in campaign matters “tend to be skewed one way or another.”
Furthermore, while individual contributions to campaigns and committees were unlikely to cause much trouble, similar contributions by the firm itself can be trickier. He explained that “You’re not going to grow your business if you’re breaking the law,” adding that it’s “incredibly important” for firms to bear in mind regulatory concerns as well as their own reputation.
Campaigns and Elections magazine is up with a new round table-style article today, reflecting on Citizens United and the “new world of money and politics,” featuring Neil Reiff. He discusses the impact of the SpeechNow.org case, the permeation of Super PACs into Senate and House races, the impact of BCRA on state and local parties, and more.
He was one of five election lawyers to be featured in the article, along with Mark Elias of Perkins Coie, former FEC Chair Robert Lenhard (now at Covington and Burling), former FEC Chairman Michael Toner (now at Wiley Rein), and Jason Torchinsky of Holtzman Vogel.
On Febrauary 10, SRYL Partner Joseph Sandler was a featured panelist at the annual spring symposium University of North Carolina at Charlotte Law School. The symposium focused on the 2012 elections, and Mr. Sandler served on a panel discussing the effect that Citizens United v. FEC will have on this year’s elections. He was one of five panelists, along with FEC Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly, former FEC Commissioner Scott Thomas, Common Cause North Carolina Executive Director Bob Phillips, and Charlotte Law School Dean Daniel Piar. In addition, former lobbyist Jack Abramoff served as the keynote speaker to the symposium.