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Dan delivers strategic and practical advice to help navigate even the most challenging enforcement, litigation, and compliance matters.

Dan Petalas brings to the service of his clients over 18 years of experience in commercial litigation, white collar and government investigations, and political law. 

In his white collar and government investigations practice, Dan counsels companies, their officers and directors, and other individuals in responding to inquiries and investigations brought by DOJ and other federal and state enforcement agencies. He conducts internal investigations and provides compliance advice to clients in the United States and abroad.

Building on his role as a former general counsel and head of enforcement at the FEC, Dan also guides individuals, companies, trade associations, and other groups through the complex regulation of federal and state political advertising and campaign finance activities, lobbying and pay-to-play restrictions, government ethics, congressional inquiries, and related election and political issues.

An accomplished trial lawyer and courtroom advocate, Dan also represents businesses and individuals in commercial disputes at all stages of the litigation process—from investigation through trial and appeal when necessary.

 Professional Background

Dan is the immediate past acting General Counsel and former head of the Enforcement Division of the Federal Election Commission. He managed more than 100 attorneys and staff and supervised the comprehensive litigation, enforcement, and investigative programs of the FEC. He was responsible for overseeing dozens of federal lawsuits before district and appellate courts and advised the Commission in its rulemaking and advisory-opinion processes. He also supervised the resolution of hundreds of enforcement matters and all enforcement investigations and settlements.

For nine years prior, Dan was a federal white collar prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice in its specialized Public Integrity Section and served also in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Dan tried 25 cases to juries and judges and handled numerous appeals in federal circuit courts. As a DOJ prosecutor, Dan worked closely with the FBI and numerous Offices of Inspectors General to investigate the full array of financial and corruption offenses, including fraud, theft, money laundering, embezzlement, bribery, false statements and obstruction of justice, among others. Dan was a member of the team that investigated and prosecuted the Jack Abramoff-related lobbying scandal, resulting in 21 guilty pleas and convictions. Dan also supervised multiple OIGs in a multi-year proactive investigation of kickback schemes at GSA, and U.S. Tax Court facilities, resulting in 11 guilty pleas. Dan also supervised the investigation of a former federal judge and represented DOJ in connection with his impeachment based on the evidence obtained during that investigation—the first removal from office of a sitting federal district judge in more than two decades and only the eighth such instance in history.

Before his federal government service, Dan was a litigation associate in the Dallas, Texas and Washington, D.C. offices of Vinson & Elkins, LLP for several years. He defended businesses in the energy, insurance, and media sectors against qui tam and FCA disputes, civil RICO allegations, class actions, international arbitration proceedings, and court challenges to administrative agency rulings. He also successfully defended clients in the news and television broadcast sectors in federal court and before the Fifth Circuit against defamation and invasion of privacy claims.

After law school, Dan served as a law clerk to the Honorable Thomas M. Reavley on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

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  • Texas, 1999
  • District of Columbia, 2000
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, 2000
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, 2000
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, 2001
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, 2002
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, 2007
  • U.S. District Court, District of Puerto Rico, 2011
  • U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska, 2016


University of Texas School of Law, J.D. with honors, 1998

  • Managing Editor, Texas Law Review

Texas A&M University, M.A. English, 1995

California State University, Fullerton, B.A. English, 1992

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