Joseph Sandler and Amanda La Forge successfully defended the Friends of Anthony Brown gubernatorial campaign in a frivolous lawsuit in Anne Arundel Circuit Court. At issue was fundraising restrictions that Brown’s opponent sought to place on his ticket. In Maryland, elected state officials and state legislators cannot raise campaign funds during the 90-day legislative session. Thus, as Lieutenant Governor, Anthony Brown is prohibited from fundraising during this time. In addition, Brown’s primary opponents Attorney General Douglas Gansler and Delegate Jolene Ivey are also prohibited from fundraising. However his choice for Lieutenant Governor, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, is unburdened by these restrictions.
The Gansler campaign brought a frivolous suit against Mr. Brown and Mr. Ulman to try to prevent Mr. Ulman from fundraising during the legislative session. However, Joe Sandler and Amanda La Forge, counsel to Friends of Anthony Brown, successfully fought off the lawsuit. Not only did the Judge William C. Mulford II dismiss the lawsuit, he also rejected a request from the Gansler campaign for sanctions against the Brown campaign.
After the ruling, Mr. Sandler told the Baltimore Sun that the lawsuit was a “‘political stunt’ meant to ’embarrass and harass’ Brown and Ulman.” The Baltimore Sun also noted that the lawsuit was brought only against the Brown/Ulman ticket, and not against two Republican tickets where one or more of the candidates are similarly unburdened by the fundraising ban.
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
SRYL Founding Partner Joe Sandler was cited as an expert in Federal Pay-to-Play rules in an article about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for NJ.com. The article discusses how the rule could affect Governor Christie should he decide to run for President:
Under the rule, executives in firms that manage investments or give investment advice to state pension funds are barred from donating to candidates who have any say over how the work is awarded, unless the firms are willing to refrain from doing business with the state for two years.
In New Jersey, the governor appoints most members of the State Investment Council, which oversees the state pension system — including the chairman, Robert Grady, who is one of Christie’s closest advisers — so experts agree the rule clearly applies to him.
The result is that Governor Christie is largely restricted from accepting contributions from Wall Street executives, many of whom live in the Garden State. Mr. Sandler told NJ.com that the rule puts “‘any incumbent governor in [Mr. Christie’s] situation’ at a disadvantage ‘more than it would any incumbent senator or member of Congress.'” He added that “to the extent that you’re talking about a governor from a state who’s heavily dependent on donations from that industry, it would have a disproportionate effect” on Governor Christie.
Chambers & Partners, one of the leading researchers in the legal profession, identified Sandler, Reiff, Young, & Lamb, PC as one of the top law firms dealing in Political and Election Law. In it’s 2013 guide to the top law firms, Chambers selected SRYL as a Band 2 law firm, recognizing the firm’s strength in catering to client’s needs. Chambers also recognized the firm’s broad client base, including candidates for federal, state, and local office, businesses, unions, non-profits, PACs, and political party committees. SRYL was recognized for it’s status as a boutique firm, allowing firm attorneys a high level of personal interaction with clients, and was the smallest firm recognized by Chambers in this practice area.
Chamber’s specifically recognized Joseph Sandler as a “Key Individual,” with a strong focus on matters of campaign finance, and corporate and tax issues that affect political advocacy.
Founding Partner Neil Reiff was quoted today in an article in the National Law Journal about what lies ahead for the IRS as it deals with the fallout from targeting Tea Party affiliated groups. The IRS is facing a heavy backlash after reports surfaced that they selectively targeted conservative groups applying for 501(c)4 tax-exempt status. With Congressional oversight likely to ramp up in the coming weeks, questions are emerging about how the IRS will deal with political organizations that register for tax exempt status going forward. Mr. Reiff told the National Law Journal that IRS oversight of such groups’ activity might be curtailed: “I think it’s a huge deal. Has the IRS been wounded to the point they have to pull back?” And since reports indicate that conservative groups were the main focus of the IRS’ targeting, Mr. Reiff warned that with Republicans “howling fairness,” liberal groups “could be girding for backlash and added scrutiny.”
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 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.