The Sutton Law Firm specializes in political and election law and litigation, representing businesses, individuals, candidates, ballot measures, PACs, and nonprofit organizations involved in the political and legislative processes on the local, state and national levels.  The firm seeks to help its clients achieve their political and legislative goals while avoiding legal pitfalls.

Practice Areas

Campaign-&-Election-Law

Campaign & Election Law

Providing legal representation to business entities, ballot measure committees, candidates, and others involved in state, local, and federal elections, including monitoring and advising on campaign contributions, independent expenditures, fundraising, and other political activities.

Campaign & Election Law

• Providing legal clearance for campaign contributions, fundraising activities, and other political activities of business entities, trade associations, nonprofit organizations and individuals involved in state, local and federal elections.

• Monitoring new campaign laws in cities and counties throughout California.

• Setting up internal compliance programs for government affairs departments of businesses and trade associations.

• Providing legal representation to state, local and federal candidates, including setting up campaign and officeholder committees, maintaining committee bank accounts, filing campaign reports, reviewing nomination papers, drafting and negotiating contracts with consultants and fundraisers, reviewing solicitations and campaign advertisements, etc.

• Acting as general counsel to ballot measure committees, including drafting initiatives, formatting initiative and referenda petitions, maintaining committee bank accounts, filing campaign reports and tax returns, drafting and negotiating contracts with consultants and fundraisers, reviewing disclaimers on campaign advertisements, etc.

• Setting up and operating state, local and federal PACs, “independent expenditure” committees and 527 organizations, including naming and disclaimer requirements.

• Counseling candidate and ballot measure campaigns about the post-election vote count process, recounts, election contests, etc.

• Representing candidates and ballot measure committees in lawsuits challenging voter information pamphlet materials and campaign communications.

• Representing candidates and ballot measure committees in lawsuits challenging the conduct of state and local elections.

• Representing elected officials and candidates in disputes over eligibility and residency.

• Bringing lawsuits challenging campaign finance laws and regulations on behalf of nonprofit organizations, citizens groups and others.

• Representing clients in enforcement proceedings before the Fair Political Practices Commission, Federal Election Commission and local ethics commissions regarding alleged violations of campaign and election laws.

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Campaign & Election Law

• Providing legal clearance for campaign contributions, fundraising activities, and other political activities of business entities, trade associations, nonprofit organizations and individuals involved in state, local and federal elections.

• Monitoring new campaign laws in cities and counties throughout California.

• Setting up internal compliance programs for government affairs departments of businesses and trade associations.

• Providing legal representation to state, local and federal candidates, including setting up campaign and officeholder committees, maintaining committee bank accounts, filing campaign reports, reviewing nomination papers, drafting and negotiating contracts with consultants and fundraisers, reviewing solicitations and campaign advertisements, etc.

• Acting as general counsel to ballot measure committees, including drafting initiatives, formatting initiative and referenda petitions, maintaining committee bank accounts, filing campaign reports and tax returns, drafting and negotiating contracts with consultants and fundraisers, reviewing disclaimers on campaign advertisements, etc.

• Setting up and operating state, local and federal PACs, “independent expenditure” committees and 527 organizations, including naming and disclaimer requirements.

• Counseling candidate and ballot measure campaigns about the post-election vote count process, recounts, election contests, etc.

• Representing candidates and ballot measure committees in lawsuits challenging voter information pamphlet materials and campaign communications.

• Representing candidates and ballot measure committees in lawsuits challenging the conduct of state and local elections.

• Representing elected officials and candidates in disputes over eligibility and residency.

• Bringing lawsuits challenging campaign finance laws and regulations on behalf of nonprofit organizations, citizens groups and others.

• Representing clients in enforcement proceedings before the Fair Political Practices Commission, Federal Election Commission and local ethics commissions regarding alleged violations of campaign and election laws.

Government-Ethics-Law

Governmental Ethics Law

Advising elected and appointed officials, government employees, and others regarding conflicts of interest, Government Code section 1090, statements of economic interest, “revolving door” and gift restrictions, and other ethics law matters.

 

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Governmental Ethics Law

• Advising elected officials, appointed commissioners and government employees whether they have a “conflict of interest” with respect to pending votes or other ethics issues, including potential violations of Government Code section 1090.

• Assisting elected officials, appointed commissioners and government employees in preparing their personal financial disclosure reports (FPPC Form 700).

• Advising businesses, nonprofits, lobbyists and individuals regarding state, local and federal restrictions on “gifts” to public officials, including rules regulating gifts to an agency, “behested donations,” etc.

• Counseling current and former public officials regarding “revolving door” prohibitions and restrictions after leaving public office.

• Representing clients in enforcement proceedings before the Fair Political Practices Commission, local ethics commissions, and other regulatory bodies regarding alleged violations of conflict of interest, gift and other ethics laws.

Governmental Ethics Law

• Advising elected officials, appointed commissioners and government employees whether they have a “conflict of interest” with respect to pending votes or other ethics issues, including potential violations of Government Code section 1090.

• Assisting elected officials, appointed commissioners and government employees in preparing their personal financial disclosure reports (FPPC Form 700).

• Advising businesses, nonprofits, lobbyists and individuals regarding state, local and federal restrictions on “gifts” to public officials, including rules regulating gifts to an agency, “behested donations,” etc.

• Counseling current and former public officials regarding “revolving door” prohibitions and restrictions after leaving public office.

• Representing clients in enforcement proceedings before the Fair Political Practices Commission, local ethics commissions, and other regulatory bodies regarding alleged violations of conflict of interest, gift and other ethics laws.

Lobbying-Law

Lobbying Law

Assisting businesses, trade associations, nonprofits, and others determine whether to register as “lobbyists” on the state, local, or federal levels, and whether and to what extent lobbying activities must be disclosed, as well as assisting with legal compliance under lobby laws.

 

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Lobbying Law

• Advising businesses, trade associations and nonprofits whether they have to register as “lobbyists” on the state, local or federal levels, and whether and to what extent they have to disclose their lobbying activities.

• Monitoring new lobbying laws in cities and counties throughout California.

• Counseling lobbyists on restrictions on their political activities and their ability to entertain public officials.

• Drafting and negotiating lobbyist and lobbying firm contracts.

• Advising investment firms which seek investments from CalPERS, CalSTRS or local retirement boards whether they have to register as “placement agents.”

• Representing clients in enforcement proceedings before the Fair Political Practices Commission and local ethics commissions regarding alleged violations of lobbying laws.

Lobbying Law

• Advising businesses, trade associations and nonprofits whether they have to register as “lobbyists” on the state, local or federal levels, and whether and to what extent they have to disclose their lobbying activities.

• Monitoring new lobbying laws in cities and counties throughout California.

• Counseling lobbyists on restrictions on their political activities and their ability to entertain public officials.

• Drafting and negotiating lobbyist and lobbying firm contracts.

• Advising investment firms which seek investments from CalPERS, CalSTRS or local retirement boards whether they have to register as “placement agents.”

• Representing clients in enforcement proceedings before the Fair Political Practices Commission and local ethics commissions regarding alleged violations of lobbying laws.

Litigation

Litigation

Representing candidates, committees, organizations, citizens’ groups, and municipalities in political, election, and municipal litigation and administrative law matters, including those regarding campaign finance regulation, initiatives, referenda, recall, lobbying disclosure and governmental ethics, election contests, candidate ballot designations or candidate statements, ballot arguments, ethics agency enforcement, and related matters.

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Litigation

The Sutton Law Firm has an active election law and municipal litigation practice, representing candidates, political committees, organizations, citizen groups and municipalities in lawsuits regarding campaign finance regulation, ballot initiatives and referenda, lobbying disclosure and governmental ethics, and election contests. The litigation handled by the Sutton Law Firm includes:

• Representing state and local candidates in lawsuits regarding their ballot designations or candidate statements printed in the voter information pamphlet.

• Representing candidates and elected officials in legal challenges to their residency or other qualifications for holding office.

• Representing proponents and opponents of state and local ballot measures in lawsuits regarding ballot arguments, official analyses, and other materials printed in the voter information pamphlet.

• Representing ballot measure proponents and opponents in pre-election challenges to the validity of proposed ballot measures.

• Initiating post-election litigation on behalf of ballot measure proponents to enforce policies enacted by initiative, and to defend the legality of measures enacted by voters.

• Counseling candidate and ballot measure campaigns about the post-election vote count process, recounts, election contests, etc.

• Filing legal challenges to campaign finance laws and regulations, including disputes over contribution and expenditure limits, disclosure of campaign activities, and the establishment of political committees.

• Defending candidates, ballot measures, PACs, businesses, nonprofits and individuals in enforcement actions brought by the Fair Political Practices Commission, Federal Elections Commission, local ethics commissions and other regulatory bodies.

Litigation

The Sutton Law Firm has an active election law and municipal litigation practice, representing candidates, political committees, organizations, citizen groups and municipalities in lawsuits regarding campaign finance regulation, ballot initiatives and referenda, lobbying disclosure and governmental ethics, and election contests. The litigation handled by the Sutton Law Firm includes:

• Representing state and local candidates in lawsuits regarding their ballot designations or candidate statements printed in the voter information pamphlet.

• Representing candidates and elected officials in legal challenges to their residency or other qualifications for holding office.

• Representing proponents and opponents of state and local ballot measures in lawsuits regarding ballot arguments, official analyses, and other materials printed in the voter information pamphlet.

• Representing ballot measure proponents and opponents in pre-election challenges to the validity of proposed ballot measures.

• Initiating post-election litigation on behalf of ballot measure proponents to enforce policies enacted by initiative, and to defend the legality of measures enacted by voters.

• Counseling candidate and ballot measure campaigns about the post-election vote count process, recounts, election contests, etc.

• Filing legal challenges to campaign finance laws and regulations, including disputes over contribution and expenditure limits, disclosure of campaign activities, and the establishment of political committees.

• Defending candidates, ballot measures, PACs, businesses, nonprofits and individuals in enforcement actions brought by the Fair Political Practices Commission, Federal Elections Commission, local ethics commissions and other regulatory bodies.

Nonprofit-Law

Nonprofit Law

Establishing 501(c)(3), (c)(4), and (c)(6) nonprofit organizations, including preparing and submitting tax exempt applications and periodic filings to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board, providing guidance to nonprofit officers and directors regarding corporate governance issues, conflicts of interests, required corporate formalities, and related matters.

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Nonprofit Law

• Setting up 501(c)(3), (c)(4) and (c)(6) nonprofit organizations, including preparing and submitting tax exempt applications to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board.

• Providing guidance to nonprofit officers and directors regarding corporate governance issues, conflicts of interests and required corporate formalities.

• Drafting bylaws.

• Counseling charities and other nonprofit organizations regarding restrictions on lobbying and political activities.

• Advising business improvement districts regarding their obligations under open meeting and public records laws and restrictions on their political activities.

Nonprofit Law

• Setting up 501(c)(3), (c)(4) and (c)(6) nonprofit organizations, including
preparing and submitting tax exempt applications to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board.

• Providing guidance to nonprofit officers and directors regarding corporate governance issues, conflicts of interests and required corporate formalities.

• Drafting bylaws, articles of incorporation, conflict of interest policies, and assisting with other corporate formalities.

• Counseling charities and other nonprofit organizations regarding restrictions on lobbying and political activities.

• Advising business improvement districts regarding their obligations under open meeting and public records laws and restrictions on their political activities.

Reporting-Services

Reporting Services

Providing comprehensive bookkeeping and reporting services, including establishing and staffing state, local and federal ballot measure and candidate committees, PACs, and independent expenditure committees, and preparing and filing all necessary campaign reports (including 10-day and 24-hour reports) and tax returns.

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Reporting Services

The Sutton Law Firm has a staff of Political Compliance Specialists who provide comprehensive bookkeeping and reporting services, under the supervision of our attorneys. Reporting services offered by the Sutton Law Firm include:

• Setting up state, local and federal candidate committees, ballot measure committees, PACs and independent expenditure committees, and preparing and filing their campaign reports (including 10-day and 24-hour reports) and tax returns.

• Maintaining committee bank accounts, collecting and depositing contributions, paying committee expenses, and preparing regular financial statements, in full compliance with all applicable legal requirements.

• Reviewing committee records in preparation for audits by the Franchise Tax Board, Federal Elections Commission or local enforcement agencies.

• Preparing and filing state, local and federal lobbying disclosure reports.

• Preparing and filing state and federal tax returns for nonprofit organizations, as well as reports filed by nonprofits with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts and the Secretary of State.

Reporting Services

The Sutton Law Firm has a staff of Political Compliance Specialists which provide comprehensive bookkeeping and reporting services, under the supervision of our attorneys. Reporting services offered by the Sutton Law Firm include:

• Setting up state, local and federal candidate committees, ballot measure committees, PACs and independent expenditure committees, and preparing and filing their campaign reports (including 10-day and 24-hour reports) and tax returns.

• Maintaining committee bank accounts, collecting and depositing contributions, paying committee expenses, and preparing regular financial statements, in full compliance with all applicable legal requirements.

• Reviewing committee records in preparation for audits by the Franchise Tax Board, Federal Elections Commission or local enforcement agencies.

• Preparing and filing state, local and federal lobbying disclosure reports.

• Preparing and filing state and federal tax returns for nonprofit organizations, as well as reports filed by nonprofits with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts and the Secretary of State.

People


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Jim Sutton

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Jim Sutton | Managing Partner

Jim Sutton is one of the leading political and election law attorneys in California. He has represented clients before the Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and San Jose Ethics Commissions, as well as the California Fair Political Practices Commission and the Federal Election Commission. He teaches Elections Law at Hastings College of the Law, and has argued numerous political and election law cases in state and federal trial and appellate courts. Jim graduated cum laude from Pomona College, and was Associate Managing Editor of the Law Review and a Moot Court finalist at Stanford Law School; he founded the Sutton Law Firm in 2003 after being a partner at another election law firm. Notable professional affiliations include Past President of the California Political Attorneys Association and former Member of the State Bar’s Nonprofit Corporation Committee. Notable current and former community involvement includes Board Chair of the Neighborhood Parks Council, Board Chair of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, Board member of the San Francisco School Alliance Advisory Board, San Francisco Parks Alliance, Enterprise for High School Students, and Golden Gate Park Tennis Coalition, and member of the San Francisco Olympic Club.

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Brad Hertz

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Brad Hertz | Partner

Over the last 25 years, Brad Hertz, who manages the firm’s Los Angeles office, has handled numerous high-profile litigation matters in state and federal trial and appellate courts involving initiatives, referenda, recalls, ballot access matters, election contests, voter pamphlets, campaign finance, and First Amendment issues. A graduate of Brown University and Georgetown University Law Center, Brad joined the Sutton Law Firm after working at Reed & Davidson and Buchalter Nemer. Brad has also represented numerous clients in Federal Election Commission, Fair Political Practices Commission and local enforcement agency actions. For many years, Brad taught Election Law and Civil Procedure at Chapman University School of Law, and served as a member of the Los Angeles County Superior Court mediation panel. Before practicing law, Brad worked as a political consultant, served as a delegate to a national Presidential Convention, and was a statewide communications director for a Presidential campaign. Brad was also an aide to a United States Senator in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. Brad is a Past President of the California Political Attorneys Association and a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and the Government Affairs Committee of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association. Brad is a frequent lecturer and author in the area of political and election, pens a monthly column entitled “Political Punditry” in the Nob Hill Gazette magazine, and sits on several non-profit boards.


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Jonathan Mintzer

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Jonathan Mintzer | Associate

Jonathan Mintzer is an associate attorney in the San Francisco office, where he advises candidates, officeholders, businesses, committees and nonprofits on political and election law. He has experience in federal, state and local campaign finance laws, election procedure, lobbying reporting, conflict of interest provisions, gift laws, and SEC and MSRB pay-to-play restrictions. Jonathan has successfully represented clients in First Amendment, election procedure, and ballot statement litigation, and in enforcement proceedings before state and local ethics commissions. He also advises clients on all steps of the ballot measure process and has drafted various local propositions.

Jonathan graduated with honors from Hastings College of the Law in May 2013 and graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California with a B.S. in Business Administration, where he served on the Board of the USC Hillel Foundation. He worked at the Sutton Law Firm as a law clerk throughout law school.

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Matthew Alvarez

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Matthew Alvarez | Associate

Matthew Alvarez is an associate with the Sutton Law Firm. He regularly advises candidates, elected officials, political committees, corporations, unions, trade associations, non-profits, and individuals regarding campaign finance, lobbying, government ethics, and election law matters. Matthew serves as legal counsel and treasurer to political committees in a variety of jurisdictions, providing advice on campaign compliance and reporting matters.

Matthew is well-versed in the ballot measure process at the state and local levels, counseling clients through all stages from initial drafting, to ballot qualification, to post-election litigation. He also regularly guides clients through enforcement proceedings before state and local ethics commissions.

Matthew graduated from the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law in May of 2014. While in law school, he externed for United States District Court Judge Michael Fitzgerald, worked as a graduate assistant for Professors Susan Estrich and Lee Epstein, and worked as a law clerk with the Sutton Law Firm. Matthew graduated from Boston College with a degree in finance and spent four years working in real estate finance and acquisitions in Los Angeles prior to attending law school.

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Nicholas Sanders

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Nicholas Sanders | Associate

Nicholas Sanders is an associate attorney in the San Francisco office, where he specializes in a wide range of election and nonprofit law issues. He has experience in federal, state, and local campaign finance laws, and also advises clients on initiative drafting and qualification, lobbying and placement agent reporting, pay-to-play law, conflict of interest and financial disclosure compliance, and grassroots advocacy. Nicholas has represented clients in matters before the California Fair Political Practices Commission and appeared before the Federal Election Commission.

During law school, Nicholas worked in the legal division of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, and in a Commissioner’s office at the Federal Election Commission. Prior to law school he worked on federal, state, and local campaign and lobbying reports as a political compliance specialist for an election law firm. Nicholas graduated from UC Davis School of Law in 2015, and is admitted to the California Bar.

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Jason Prasad

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Jason Prasad | Political Compliance Manager

Jason Prasad is the manager of the firm’s Political Compliance Unit, and has expertise in all aspects of the reporting rules for political committees, lobbying entities, Major Donors and nonprofit organizations. He graduated from UC Davis with a BA in Political Science and International Relations, where he worked as a student advisor for the College of Letters and Science.

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Sarah Singer

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Sarah Singer | Political Compliance Specialist

Sarah Singer serves as one of the firm’s Political Compliance Specialists. She graduated from Sonoma State University with a BA in Political Science. Prior to joining the firm, Sarah worked on various state and local political campaigns.

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Carissa McFadden

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Carissa McFadden | Political Compliance Specialist

Carissa McFadden serves as one of the firm’s Political Compliance Specialists. She received her BA in Political Science from UCLA, and has worked on fundraising, field organizing and campaign management for several political campaigns on the federal, state, and local levels.

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Cole Armstrong

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Cole Armstrong | Political Compliance Specialist

Cole Armstrong serves as one of the firm’s Political Compliance Specialists. A San Francisco native, he attended Synergy School and University High School before going on to graduate from Swarthmore College with a double major in Political Science and Economics. His experience prior to joining The Sutton Law Firm includes working for political campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels.



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Daniel Mooney

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Daniel Mooney | Office Administrator

Danny Mooney, Jr. is the Sutton Law Firm’s Office Administrator and has been with the firm since August 2004. Danny attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. He started his career working for United Airlines, beginning as a Customer Service Representative and then being promoted to VIP Services at San Francisco Airport, which spanned 15 years. While at United Airlines, Danny received multiple local, state and regional service awards. He previously worked as the Office Manager for RocketCash LLC for 4 years, which was purchased by Coca Cola, before coming to the Sutton Law Firm.

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Linda Chan

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Linda Chan | Legal Secretary

Linda Chan is the Sutton Law Firm’s Legal Secretary and has been with the firm since 2004.


COMMITMENT TO CLIENTS

The Sutton Law Firm seeks to help clients achieve their political and legislative goals while avoiding legal pitfalls. The firm is explicitly and emphatically nonpartisan, representing interest groups, candidates and ballot measures with a wide range of political viewpoints

The following standards guide the firm’s relationship with its clients:

• Maintain the highest quality of legal work, the highest level of professionalism and the highest ethical standards.

• Conduct thorough research and prepare well-written work product, translating the law into understandable guidelines and persuasive pleadings.

• Rather than responding to specific or narrow questions, ask clients to describe their ultimate goals, and then work with clients on identifying alternative ways to reach their goals with the fewest (if any) legal pitfalls.

• Take a pro-active stance vis-á-vis our clients’ legal and political needs by keeping them informed of significant new laws, upcoming filing deadlines and relevant court decisions, and by contacting them on a regular basis about any proposed activities that may require legal input.

• Advise clients about the risks associated with their proposed activities (including legal liabilities and press scrutiny), and help them decide whether the political benefits of the proposed actions outweigh these risks.

• Strive for 100% accurate public disclosure reports and 100% complete back-up documentation.

• Be responsive and accessible, especially during election seasons, reporting deadline periods, and litigation.

• Maintain complete confidentiality of all client information.

• Offer legal services on a pro bono basis to community-based nonprofits and political organizations.

Representative Sampling of Clients

 

AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Alston & Bird

Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG)

Antelope Valley Healthcare District

Attorney General Kamala Harris

Berkeley Property Owners Association

California Resources Corporation

Los Angeles Lobbyist Coalition

Californians for Lower Drug Prices
(Proposition 61; November 2016)

Citizens’ Coalition for the Protection of Patients and Neighborhoods

City of Torrance

Committee on Industrial Safety (Contra Costa County)

Cox Communications

Ethiq, Inc.

For Adult Industry Responsibility (FAIR)
(Proposition 60; November 2016)

Great Oakland Public Schools

Landslide Communications

Latham & Watkins

Lilac Hills Ranch (San Diego County)

Los Angeles Central City Association

Los Angeles Lobbying Coalition

Lyft

Medical Marijana Regulation Initiative (Los Angeles)

Orange Chamber of Commerce PAC

Panda Restaurant Group

Platinum Advisors

San Diego Hotel-Motel Association

San Francisco Alliance for Jobs & Sustainable Growth

San Francisco Association of Realtors

San Francisco Building Owners & Managers Association

San Francisco Chamber of Commerce

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon

San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce

South Orange County Regional Chamber of Commerce

Southwest Strategies

State Treasurer Candidate Fiona Ma

Terris, Barnes & Walters

Tom Shepard & Associates

Valley Industry & Commerce Association (VICA) PAC

Get in touch





Contact Details

 

BAY AREA

info@campaignlawyers.com
415.732.7700
150 Post Street, Suite 405
San Francisco, CA 94108

 

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OFFICE

info@campaignlawyers.com
818.593.2949
22815 Ventura Blvd, #405
Los Angeles, CA 91364

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San Francisco Office – 150 Post Street, Suite 405 – San Francisco, CA 94108 – Tel: 415/732-7700 – Fax: 415/732-7701
Los Angeles Office – 22815 Ventura Boulevard, #405 – Los Angeles, CA 91364 – Tel: 818/593-2949 – information@campaignlawyers.com