Jason Kaune leads the firm’s Political Law section and advises clients about the unique and complex laws at the intersection of the public and private sectors in the United States.
For nearly twenty five years, Mr. Kaune has specialized in government ethics, elections, lobbying disclosure, conflicts of interest, and campaign finance laws of federal, state and local governments. He pioneered the firm’s national political law compliance practices, building client-oriented resources and innovative systems with his colleagues that have served as benchmarks in the regulated community.
As a recognized national expert on corporate political activities, his Fortune 500 clients include the nation’s largest technology, pharmaceutical, energy, telecommunications, media, publishing, investment and consumer product companies. His cross-disciplinary approach spans legal compliance, government affairs, public sector contracting, ethics and organizational governance, and specifically includes expertise in the “pay to play” and other anti-corruption restrictions on government contractors, the emerging law surrounding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the federal 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 represents clients in government agency audits and investigations, associating with local counsel as necessary.
He serves as general counsel and treasurer to a broad range of political action committees, non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, social welfare organizations, independent expenditure committees, professional associations and ballot measures focused on policy areas ranging from land use restrictions to political corruption and government reform. He also represents major donors and government entities on sensitive matters of legal compliance, election controversies and policy.
In 2022, the president of the American Bar Association (ABA) appointed Mr. Kaune as chair of its Standing Committee on Election Law. He currently co-chairs the Practicing Law Institute’s (PLI) widely regarded annual conference on Corporate Political Activities and has served on its faculty since 2000. He is ranked in Chambers U.S.A. He is a past president of the California Political Attorneys Association, and a member of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws and other professional associations. He served eight years as an elected local government official. He lectures and speaks frequently about politics and policy and currently teaches a graduate level course at the Yale School of Management on “Political Ethics and Issues for Organizations.”
Before joining Nielsen Merksamer, Mr. Kaune worked in the private and non-profit sectors, as a speechwriter, 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” • “Corporate Social Responsibility: Evaluating Political Activity Compliance in the Current Crossfire”
- American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Election Law, appointed chair, past 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) • “Voting and the Disability Community: Progress Made and Needed (Civil Rights and Social Justice Section) • “On the Sidelines or Taking Sides: Corporations, Elections, Social Responsibility and Predictions About Long Term Impacts on Corporate governance (Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, Louisiana)
- 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.