White collar and political law attorney Dan Petalas, formerly acting general counsel to the Federal Election Committee (FEC), was quoted extensively in a Washington Post article that discussed an FEC complaint filed by American Democracy Legal Fund—an accountability group led by political operative David Brock—against Fox News’ Sean Hannity. The complaint alleged that Hannity, Fox News, and the Trump campaign violated campaign finance laws as a result of Hannity’s simultaneous role as a political media commentator and advisor to the Trump campaign.
Dan stated that an FEC investigation was unlikely without some evidence that Hannity in fact provided the campaign with proprietary information from Fox News or the like. He noted that, like other individuals, "Hannity is entitled to volunteer and provide input” to a presidential campaign committee. Furthermore, Dan noted that the access Hannity enjoys to the campaign “by being involved in these discussions … presumably benefits his legitimate press function” as a political pundit under the media exemption, an additional potential legal defense to an FEC action.
The article also cites former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski who, like Hannity, straddles dual roles as both a CNN analyst and advisor to the Trump campaign. Dan noted that the FEC generally does not launch a formal investigation into a media organization in these circumstances absent evidence suggesting that the media exemption would not apply.
To read the full article, please visit The Washington Post's website.
- Campaign Legal Center, 1.31.18