Federal Election Commission (FEC) Defense Lawyers

Political action committees (PACs) and their owners will be under the microscope during the 2020 campaign season. Here’s what you need to know if you or your PAC is being investigated by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Nick is extremely professional and knows what he is doing. He is also very kind as a person (unless he is in court!) I would recommend him to just about anyone if they need an amazing lawyer that is top notch and would frankly be scary to face in the court room. He will always do a great job representing his clients. Thank you very much.read more
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Nick is the absolute top expert in any federal case
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Smart. Smarter. Nick. As a healthcare executive, I once ran into a litigation issue. I hired Nick and, literally, before I knew it the case was resolved in my favor. Nick has an incredible presence and every lawyer in the room knows that Nick will do exactly what he says. It was a mesmerizing experience to see Nick in action! Very calm and determined, Nick is the absolute top litigator.read more
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Nick has been a friend and trusted advisor for almost 10 years. As anyone just looking at his bio can tell, Nick is an outstanding attorney in highest demand across the country. All healthcare providers should hire attorney Nick Oberheiden!! You will not be disappointed.
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Dr. Oberheiden has served as council and represented our company on several occasions, even during depositions, contract reviews and providing invaluable advice on multiple occasions that transpired into multilevel success in our business. He and his teams knowledge of both local, state and federal statues, accompanied by their areas of expertise law regarding best asset protection, estate planning and wealth management solutions have provided both professional and personal growth for my companies, safeguarding them and protection my family’s name and legacy. I would recommend this firm and Dr. Nick Oberheiden without hesitation. I have no doubt that you will experience success with his council.read more
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I have worked with Nick Oberheiden for over ten years on various litigation matters in and around New York City. Nick is an accomplished and seasoned lawyer and litigator---efficient, reliable, practical and, at the same time, highly academic. Nick will take the time necessary to understand a client's short- and long-term goals, and tailor his representation and advice to work toward and achieve those ends. Nick is a zealous advocate for his client, and will never sacrifice his client's interests for a quick or easy resolution to a case. At the end of the day, Nick is a great person to know if you or your business is in need of a top litigator or defense attorney.read more
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Nick Oberheiden is a spectacular lawyer, a true life saver. Nick is simply the very best!
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Michael P
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The 2020 presidential election is expected to be the most-watched and most-well-funded in American history. While this is good news for political action committees (PACs) that rely on exposure and voter engagement to bring in funding, it also means that PACs and their owners are likely to face unprecedented scrutiny during the campaign season. This includes scrutiny from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), as well as other federal agencies and election campaign watchdogs.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden



John W. Sellers
John W. Sellers

Former Senior Trial Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice

Local Counsel

Joanne Fine DeLena
Joanne Fine DeLena

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Lynette S. Byrd
Lynette S. Byrd

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney


Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Aaron L. Wiley
Aaron L. Wiley

Former Federal Prosecutor

Local Counsel

Roger Bach
Roger Bach

Former Special Agent (OIG)

Gamal Abdel-Hafiz
Gamal Abdel-Hafiz

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

Chris Quick
Chris Quick

Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)

Kevin M. Sheridan
Kevin M. Sheridan

Former Special Agent (FBI)

Ray Yuen
Ray Yuen

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

Dennis A. Wichern
Dennis A. Wichern

Former Special Agent-in-Charge (DEA)

If your committee is under investigation by the FEC or any other federal agency or watchdog – or if you are concerned that your PAC might become the target of a federal investigation – it is important that you engage federal defense counsel promptly. If made public, the investigation could cause significant and irreparable harm to your PAC’s reputation even if the allegations ultimately prove to be unfounded. However, by engaging federal defense counsel to handle the investigation on your committee’s behalf, you can mitigate the risk of this happening, and your defense team can begin working immediately to resolve the investigation without federal charges being filed. 

Are you accused of a federal crime?

Don't delay. Learn about your rights.

Call Dr. Nick Oberheiden now!


Oberheiden P.C. | One Firm. Nationwide Defense.

Oberheiden P.C.’s federal defense team represents political action committees, PAC owners, and other individuals and organizations in federal investigations nationwide. We handle federal investigations involving the FEC, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and all other law enforcement agencies; and, while we have succeeded in protecting most of our clients during the investigative stage, we also have a significant success record in federal grand jury proceedings and trials. 

Our firm is unique among federal defense law firms in that our team is comprised not only of attorneys, but also former high-ranking federal agents. This includes former Special Agents, Supervisory Special Agents, and Special Agents in Charge with the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division (IRS-CI), and other agencies. Our former agents’ vast investigative experience allows us to quickly assess our clients’ exposure, and our senior attorneys’ extensive experience in federal cases (including experience as DOJ prosecutors and U.S. Attorneys) allows us to formulate and execute targeted defense strategies quickly and discretely before the FEC and the DOJ decide to pursue charges. 

When you engage Oberheiden P.C. to handle your political action committee fraud investigation, your defense team will include:

  • Dr. Nick Oberheiden, firm founder and career federal defense attorney
  • Lynette S. Byrd, former DOJ prosecutor
  • Amanda Marshall, former U.S. Attorney
  • Roger Bach, former Special Agent (OIG)
  • Chris Quick, former Special Agent (FBI and IRS-CI)
  • Kevin Sheridan, former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)
  • Ray Yuen, former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)
  • Gamal Abdel-Hafiz, former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

Potential Triggers for FEC (and Other Federal Agency) Investigations Targeting Political Action Committees and PAC Owners 

Political action committees that support presidential candidates and other candidates for federal office are subject to a bevy of laws and regulations that fall within the FEC’s jurisdiction. The FEC dutifully enforces these laws and regulations, and PACs that are suspected of committing violations can face swift and intensive scrutiny. Similar to other types of federal law enforcement investigations, investigations targeting PACs and their owners can have a number of potential triggers. These include:

  • FEC-initiated investigations arising out of perceived filing deficiencies and other perceived campaign finance law and public corruption violations;
  • Whistleblower complaints filed with the FEC and the DOJ by disgruntled former employees, operatives of political opponents, and other individuals;
  • Complaints filed by election compliance watchdog organizations; and,
  • Investigations launched by the FBI, IRS, and other federal agencies that uncover potential evidence of campaign finance law and fundraising regulation violations.

Potential Civil and Criminal Allegations Against PACs and Their Owners in Federal Investigations

While these investigations can target a multitude of potential statutory and regulatory violations, it has recently come to our attention that the FEC may be devoting a significant portion of its resources during the 2020 election cycle to targeting fundraising-related violations. While most PAC owners and organizers are generally familiar with the FEC’s advertising and disclaimer requirements, a basic understanding of the rules is not enough to avoid facing charges if the FEC conducts a targeted inquiry. In fact, in the absence of a comprehensive compliance program, a less-than-comprehensive understanding of the law can actually do more harm than good, as the authorities will use this to allege that you “should have known” better and failed to take the necessary steps to establish and maintain compliance. 

In federal campaign finance and advertising fraud investigations, some examples of potential allegations include:

1. Misleading Photos and Quotes

There are strict rules regarding when PACs can make use of candidates’ names and likenesses. Such advertisements are generally viewed as misleading at best, and they will frequently trigger allegations of intentional fraud (i.e. trying to solicit contributions by creating a false impression that the committee has been endorsed by the candidate whose image is being used). When a PAC is not affiliated with a candidate, using his or her name and likeness without a license can also create liability exposure in civil litigation. 

While there are ways that PACs can promote their efforts to support particular candidates lawfully, any transgressions in this regard have the potential to trigger an investigation and potentially give rise to other questions about the PAC’s compliance efforts (or lack thereof) as well. 

2. Inadequate Advertising Disclaimers

All PACs are subject to advertising disclaimer requirements. This is true whether a PAC is (i) authorized and financed by a political campaign, (ii) authorized but not financed by the campaign, or (iii) neither authorized nor financed by the campaign. There are special requirements for print, television, and radio advertisements; and, while not all advertising materials need to contain disclaimers, many do. 

Here, too, noncompliance is likely to lead to a host of additional questions; and, once again, simply facing allegations during an election cycle can be devastating for a PAC. At Oberheiden P.C., we have the knowledge and strategic defense skills required to prevent questions of compliance from transforming into allegations of campaign finance fraud

3. False or Misleading Claims of Authorization or Endorsement

Having a political campaign’s authorization or a political candidate’s endorsement can be huge for any political action committee. But, falsely claiming to have authorization or an endorsement (or falsely implying the existence of an authorization or endorsement) can have severe legal ramifications. For PACs accused of making false or misleading statements about their affiliation with candidates for federal office, it will often be necessary to prove that the FEC’s interpretation of the PAC’s advertising materials is misguided and/or does not support an inference of intent to defraud potential donors. 

4. Failure to Disclose (or Misrepresentation of) Use of Contributions

Another area where political action committees and PAC owners can run into trouble with the FEC is with their federally-mandated financial disclosures. While failure to file the necessary disclosure forms is one way that PACs can get the FEC’s attention, incomplete and misleading disclosures – particularly regarding the use of donors’ funds – are common triggers for federal investigations targeting PACs and their owners as well. 

5. Campaign Finance and Advertising Law Violations at Live Events

Many campaign finance and advertising law investigations target allegations of false, misleading, and otherwise fraudulent claims made during live fundraising events. In today’s world, anything said at this type of event has the potential to be recorded and sent to the FEC (or posted on social media), and video recordings of statutory and regulatory violations can be used as evidence in civil and criminal cases. As a result, these events are not the “wild west” they once were, and PAC organizers and owners must be extremely careful to avoid saying anything in public that could be used to substantiate charges of campaign finance or political contribution fraud. 

Potential Penalties for Campaign Finance and PAC Advertising Law Violations

The laws that protect the integrity of the United States’ federal election system are broad, and they include provisions for severe civil and criminal sanctions. Political action committees and PAC owners targeted by the FEC and other federal agencies can face a plethora of allegations, and each of these allegations can potentially support multiple civil or criminal charges – and in many cases multiple counts of each individual charge. In civil cases, penalties can include fines and loss of FEC registration. In criminal cases, the financial penalties can be even more severe, and PAC owners and organizers can face years or decades in federal prison.

Contact the Federal Defense Team at Oberheiden P.C.

Is your political action committee facing scrutiny from the FEC, the DOJ, or another federal agency? Are you concerned about the possible consequences of a federal campaign finance law or political advertising law investigation? To speak with a senior member of Oberheiden P.C.’s federal defense team in confidence, call 888-680-1745 or request a free and confidential assessment online now.

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