Lawrence H. Norton

Partner
Norton Lawrence

Larry Norton, a former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), advises clients on federal and state campaign finance laws, lobbying disclosure, gift and ethics rules, pay-to-play laws, and the tax implications of political activities. His clients include corporations and their PACs, advocacy groups and trade associations, candidates, super PACs, lobbying shops and law firms, and high-net-worth individuals. Larry recognizes the unique issues facing organizations seeking to influence public policy and elections. He provides pragmatic and creative solutions to complex problems, troubleshoots new projects and programs, and helps clients manage their legal and reputational risks. 

Larry also represents clients in investigations by the FEC, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), congressional ethics committees, and state ethics and election boards.

During his tenure at the FEC, Larry headed the agency's enforcement, litigation, and rulemaking programs, and led the Office of General Counsel in interpreting the landmark McCain-Feingold Act. Prior to joining the FEC, he served as associate director in the Division of Enforcement at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and as assistant director in the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Before his service in the federal government, Larry served in the Civil Litigation Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

Experience

Government Experience

  • Assistant Attorney General, Civil Litigation Division, Office of the Maryland Attorney General
  • Assistant Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission
  • Associate Director, Division of Enforcement, Commodity Futures Trading Commission
  • General Counsel, Federal Election Commission

Representative Matters

  • Retained by publicly traded and large private companies for advice on campaign finance and lobbying compliance, including pre-clearing corporate and executive contributions, advice regarding pay-to-play laws, and PAC formation and reporting
  • Represents a major gun safety organization, advising on political activity and lobbying compliance, tax-exempt status matters, contracts, social media engagement, fundraising, reporting obligations, and governance
  • Represents a fiscal sponsor of innovative nonprofit advocacy projects engaged in fast-paced, high-profile grassroots campaigns to influence public policy and elections ($30+ million in 2017-2018)
  • Formed and advised super PACs that collectively spent more than $50 million in 2018 U.S. House races, including highest-spending, non-party super PAC
  • Provides ongoing advice to one of the nation’s 50 largest law firms on partnership contributions and lobbying disclosure, and successfully represented another top-50 law firm in an FEC investigation involving allegations of illegal, in-kind contributions
  • Serves as general counsel to candidates for U.S. Congress and potential presidential candidates, advising on the FEC’s “testing-the-waters” regulations, personal financial disclosure statements, coordination with outside parties, and other complex rules
  • Assisted ballot committees in California, Pennsylvania, and Illinois with most expensive city-level ballot initiatives in U.S. history
  • Obtained favorable decisions from House and Senate Ethics Committees on matters involving travel, events, and outside business activities

Insights

Credentials
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Education

  • J.D. University of Maryland School of Law 1983
    • Order of the Coif
    • Assistant Editor, Maryland Law Review
  • B.A. magna cum laude University of Maryland 1980

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
  • New York

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Co-editor, Political Law Briefing, a Venable blog
  • Member, Maryland Office of Attorney General Campaign Finance Advisory Task Force, 2010

Recognition
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  • Recognized in Legal 500, Not-for-Profit (Nonprofit and Tax Exempt Organizations), 2015 - 2016
  • Recognized in Chambers USA, Government: Political Law, National, 2012 - 2018
  • Included in Washington, DC Super Lawyers, 2013 - 2019
  • Listed in Washingtonian magazine, Top Lawyers: Campaigns and Election Law, 2011 - 2012, 2013, 2015