Brian G. Svoboda, a partner in the firm's Political Law practice group, is an authority on the laws regulating political activity. He helps clients to organize and achieve their political objectives. He defends them when their activities have drawn unwanted controversy. His work entails recognizing, understanding and serving clients’ strategic and reputational interests, especially when the political stakes are high.
Brian provides general counseling to companies, trade associations, political parties, candidates, nonprofit organizations and individuals on all aspects of the ethics and campaign finance laws. He helps them to navigate the increasingly complex rules that govern the political process: the federal lobbying disclosure laws; the Internal Revenue Service rules on political activity; the regulatory and judicial responses to the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC; and the tangle of federal, state and local laws that political activity often triggers.
Brian is one of the nation’s leading practitioners before the Federal Election Commission. His in-depth understanding of that agency allows him to offer counsel to clients on how to organize their fundraising, spending, and communications to comply with FEC rules. Through the FEC’s advisory opinion process, he has secured legal protection for high-stakes, high visibility activities. He has successfully defended many clients in FEC audits and investigations, and in civil litigation against the agency. Brian also helps clients comply with state and local campaign finance laws, and has appeared before agencies and courts across the country on campaign finance issues.
Brian has successfully represented several Members of Congress in ethics investigations before the U.S. House Committee on Ethics, the Office of Congressional Ethics, and the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He has been quoted in Time Magazine on the topic of the Congressional ethics process.
A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, Brian appeared before representatives of the Council on Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) when they evaluated the transparency of the U.S. campaign finance system. He has participated in panel discussions sponsored by the Council on Governmental and Ethics Laws and the George Mason Civil Rights Law Journal. Brian has served as a guest speaker in classes at the George Mason University School of Law and the American University Washington College of Law.
Ethics and Lobbying Compliance
Federal and State Campaign Finance Law Compliance
- Developed trainings, policies and programs for companies to comply with federal gift and lobbying rules.
- Helped companies understand when and how to register under the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act and the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
- Counseled companies on how to plan their events to comply with the gift rules of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
- Represented numerous candidates, political parties and political action committees in all aspects of their activities.
- Worked with companies and nonprofits to plan their political spending efficiently and to meet the requirements of federal and state campaign finance laws.
- Helped companies establish PACs to make direct contributions in federal and state elections.
- Helped clients establish “firewall” policies to make independent expenditures in federal, state, and local elections.
- Counseled clients on how to make and receive contributions in compliance with federal and state “pay to play” rules.
Investigations and Audits
- Helped clients establish and operate the right type of nonprofit organizations for their charitable, lobbying, and political activities
- Developed programs to review client communications for compliance with IRS, FEC, FCC and other legal restrictions
- Successfully defended many clients in complaints and audits before the Federal Election Commission.
- Represented companies in audits of their Lobbying Disclosure Act reports by the General Accounting Office
- Helped clients respond to grand jury subpoenas at both the federal and state levels.
- Served as lead counsel to Members of Congress in multiple investigations before the U.S. House Committee on Ethics, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics and the Office of Congressional Ethics.
U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey, Washington, D.C., Legislative Assistant, 1993 - 1997
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Washington D.C., Deputy Advisor to the Chairman for Strategy and Policy, 1995 - 1997
- University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 1993
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Law & Politics, 1992 - 1993
- University of Nebraska, B.A., Political Science and Russian, Phi Beta Kappa, 1989
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia