Jason Kaune leads the firm’s political law section. His practice focuses on government ethics, including the election, lobbying disclosure, conflict of interest, gift and gratuity, and campaign finance laws of federal, state and local governments. He additionally has administrative oversight of the firm’s San Francisco Bay Area office.
Mr. Kaune advises clients on the complex government regulation of the political intersection of the public and private sectors in the United States. For twenty years, he has pioneered the firm’s national compliance practice, building client-oriented resources and innovative systems with his political law colleagues that have served as benchmarks in the regulated community. As a recognized expert on corporate political compliance, his clients include the nation’s largest technology, pharmaceutical, energy, telecommunications, media, publishing, investment and consumer product companies.
He represents clients in regard to their dealings with federal, state and local government ethics agencies across the country, associating with local counsel as necessary. His expertise includes “pay to play” restrictions on government contractors, the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), California’s Political Reform Act (PRA), and similar laws at every level of government.
He is one of the leading political attorneys in California, advising individuals, entities and government agencies on complex election law and conflict of interest matters. He serves as counsel and treasurer political action committees, advocacy groups, social welfare organizations, independent expenditure committees and ballot measures on topics ranging from land use restrictions to government reform.
He is a past president of the California Political Attorneys Association and member of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws and other professional associations. He co-chairs the Practicing Law Institute’s widely regarded annual conference on Corporate Political Activities and has been appointed to the Standing Committee on Election Law for the American Bar Association. He serves as an elected trustee of a California public school district.
Before joining Nielsen Merksamer, Mr. Kaune worked in the private and non-profit sectors, as a speechwriter in Washington, D.C., on a presidential campaign, and as an extern for a U.S. Federal District Court Judge and for the California Law Revision Commission. He received his degrees from Yale University, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the University of California Hastings College of the Law.
- General counsel and professional treasurer for advocacy organizations, political action committees and social welfare organizations.
- Outside counsel to corporations and trade associations in regard to campaign finance, lobby disclosure and government ethics compliance.
- Expert and advisor on conflicts of interests involving government officials, contractors and regulated entities.
- Practising Law Institute (PLI) Corporate Political Activities conference co-chair faculty and author and one-hour continuing education briefings, include: • “Overview of Federal Campaign Finance” • “State and Local Campaign Finance Laws” • “Pay-to-Play Laws: An Introduction and Overview” • “Government Contacts and Pay-to-Play Laws” • “State Lobby and Gift Laws” • “State and Local Government Ethics Laws” • “Political Tax Considerations” • “Nonprofits, Advocacy Organizations and Independent Expenditures” • “Corporate Compliance and Ethics Programs” • “U.S. Political Activities by Multinational Corporations” • “COVID-19 Political Compliance Considerations for Companies”
- American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Election Law, appointed member and program chair, moderator, organizer and/or participant: • “International Political Influence and Corruption: Will Recent Scandals Lead to Stricter U.S. Regulations.” (International Law Section) • “Campaign Finance Enforcement Trends: The Use of Public Resources and Other Hot Topics” (Section of State and Local Government Law) • “Campaign Finance Law: Comparative Best Practices and Basics for Disclosure of Contributions and Expenses” (National Judicial College, Nevada) • “Legal Issues in Voting Rights” (Kansas Bar Association) • “Gender Parity in the Electoral Process” (Commission on the Nineteenth Amendment)
- Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL), co-author and moderator of annual national compendium of campaign finance litigation developments
- American Conference Institute (ACI), National Form on FARA, “FARA Prosecutions in Practice: How Practitioners are Approaching the Toughest, Most Critical Decisions in the Wake of Recent, High Profile Cases”
- Academic journals and studies include Exporting Ethics: Lessons from Russia’s Attempt to Regulate Federal Lobbying, 20 Hastings Int’l & Comp. L. Rev. 815; The Future of Public Contracting in California: Alternatives to Proposition 224, Hastings Public Law Research Institute; Office of the White House Counsel: Past, Present and Future, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
- Frequently presents on matters of political law before client groups, trade associations and legal education seminars.
- Provided commentary for KTVU (Fox) on election law issues and expert commentary on political matters.